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Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act overview

Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act now law

On Friday, Dec. 4, President Obama signed the FAST Act into law. Full FAST Act Analysis, vote counts and funding graphs are available on the CTAA web site. FAST Act Analysis

Here is an initial section-by-section look at how the FAST Act affects the federal transit program. CTAA developed this list with an eye towards those items that matter most to community transportation providers and their partners, and may not be mentioning features of the FAST Act that are important to other audiences.

Section 5302 – definitions

• Language is added that opens an opportunity for transit agencies to spend up to 20 percent of their apportionments on ADA complementary paratransit, instead of a 10 percent permissive ceiling, if certain conditions are met.

• There is no change to the definition or treatment of “mobility management” as an eligible capital expense in FTA programs.

• Two more allowable purposes are added as eligible uses of FTA capital grants: “associated transit improvements” and improvements related to low- and no-emission buses.

• A definition for “value capture” is added to the overall list of defined terms.

Section 5307 – urbanized area formula grants

• Demand-response transit (other than ADA complementary paratransit) in urbanized areas of more than 200,000 population becomes eligible for Section 5307 operating grants, with the same 75- and 100-bus limits as urban fixed-route bus service.

Section 5310 – formula grants for the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities

• States and local government entities operating public transit services are clarified as eligible direct recipients of Section 5310 assistance.

• The dissemination of “best practices” becomes a statutory activity for FTA under a new Section 5310(i)

• New provisions are added at Section 3006(b) of the FAST Act, surrounding a new “pilot program for innovative coordinated access and mobility,” for which there could be grants to entities eligible for Section 5310 grants, plus statutory expectations for the federal interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility. Section 5311 – formula grants for rural areas

• The authorized amount for formula-based funding for tribal transit under Section 5311(c) increases to $30 million a year (the amount available for FTA discretionary tribal transit grants remains $5 million a year).

• Additional sources of eligible “non-federal” matching funds are established, including cash from non-governmental sources and advertising sales (both of which previously were not allowed as matching funds).

• Language is added to provide for consolidated grants of Section 5311(c) funds to multiple tribes. S

Section 5323 – general provisions

• Provisions for Buy America compliance and waivers are amended.

• Language is added to allow FTA grantees to use value capture (as newly defined under Section 5302) in the non-federal share for both capital and operating grants.

• A targeted restriction related to charter bus service is added at Section 5323(t).

Section 5337 “state of good repair” grants, last authorized at $2.2 billion in FY 2014, increase to $2.5 billion in FY 2016, and grow incrementally to $2.7 billion in FY 2020.

• Section 5339(a) formula grants for buses and bus facilities continue to be authorized at $427.8 million in FY 2016 (same as MAP-21 levels), but grow incrementally to $464.6 million in FY 2020.

• The new program of Section 5339(b) competitive grants for buses and bus facilities is authorized at $268.0 million in FY 2016, growing incrementally to $344.0 million in FY 2020; each year, $55.0 million is set aside for competitive low- and no-emission bus grants.

• Supplementary formula funding under Section 5340 for growing and high-density states (last authorized at $525.9 million in FY 2014) increases to $536.3 million in FY 2016, growing incrementally to $570.0 million in FY 2020; the portion of this that is added to Section 5307 and 5311 apportionments in all urbanized areas and in all 50 states is increased to 52 percent of the Section 5340 authorization (this was 50 percent under MAP- 21), and the portion that is allocated to Section 5307 apportionments in seven “high density” states is reduced to 48 percent of the Section 5340 authorization. It’s helpful to recall that all Section 5340 funds are folded into their respective states’ and urbanized areas’ Section 5311 and 5307 apportionments each year.

Section 5339 – bus and bus facility grants

  • There’s a new “pilot program for cost-effective capital investment” that allows for states to pool their acquisition of buses

  • There’s a brand-new program of competitive bus and bus facility grants that can be made to states or local transit agencies; 10 percent of these grants must be made for buses and bus facilities in rural areas

  • There is a new program of competitive grants for low- and no-emission buses.

Other Provisions in the Transit Title of the FAST Act

Section 3019 provides for certain “innovative” procurements by FTA grantees, including a pilot program for nonprofit cooperative procurements, a program to support innovative leasing arrangements, et al.

Section 3020 calls upon DOT to carry out a review of public transportation safety standards and protocols including a rulemaking that would protect public transportation workers from the risk of assault and a study and report on parking safety at transit facilities.

Section 3023 is a targeted requirement concerning a specific ADA complementary paratransit issue.




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