Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
DC Streetsblog

FTA Opens the Door For More Transit Expansions to Receive Federal Funding

One of the most important federal transit programs has undergone a makeover, and transit advocates are cheering the results.

The Federal Transit Administration late last month released new evaluation criteria for transit projects vying for funds from the New Starts and Small Starts programs. These two programs dispensed a total of $2 billion last year, providing roughly half the funding for transit expansions in the U.S.

Previously, the FTA relied heavily on "travel time savings" to judge the merits of a project. The new formula will focus instead on the number of passengers expected to be served. Economic benefits like the impact on development will also be considered.

The new criteria also employ broader measures of the environmental benefits of transit. Instead of using the EPA's air quality formula as the sole measure of a project's environmental benefits, the new evaluation process will also incorporate the expected effects on public health (including traffic fatality rates) and energy use.

Advocates say the new rules will streamline the approval process and open the door to federal funding for a wider variety of transit projects.

"This is big news -- leading to more fundable projects, with higher community benefits, approved faster at lower cost, for the benefit of an expanded network of qualified applicants," said David Burwell, director of the energy and climate program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "This guidance is a heads up to communities to sharpen their pencils and get to work on their project proposals."

U.S. DOT also estimates the new application process will save about $500,000 annually in administrative costs. The new rules are the result of a executive order issued by President Obama in January 2011 that called for streamlining federal agencies; they were not required by the new federal transportation law, MAP-21, which preserved the programs, but did not change the requirements.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Metro and Caltrans Expect to Complete Torrance 405 Freeway Widening Project Next Month

Metro and Caltrans are adding nearly two miles of new auxiliary freeway lanes, a new on-ramp, and widening adjacent streets including Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street

July 19, 2024

Strategizing About Reduced Funding in the Active Transportation Program

Funding for Cycle 7 of the Active Transportation Program is less than $200 million, and already there have been requests for fifteen times the amount of available funding

July 18, 2024

Eyes on the Street: Hollywood Boulevard Bike Lanes are Open

The Hollywood bike lanes project, already very much in use, is also already being criticized by commenters at Nextdoor and other social media

July 17, 2024
See all posts