Posts Tagged ‘Federal Transit Administration’

FTA allocates $281 million in funding for five transit projects

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a total of $281 million in additional Fiscal Year 2018 federal funding allocations to five transit projects in Arizona, California, Minnesota and Texas. Funding will be provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.

“These significant investments in the public transit systems in five communities across the country will improve mobility for riders who depend upon public transit every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FTA has advanced funding for 17 new CIG projects throughout the nation under this administration since January 20, 2017, totaling approximately $4.8 billion in funding commitments. The present administration will have executed 13 CIG funding agreements by Dec. 31, 2018, for $3.3 billion in CIG funding, compared to 10 projects for $1.08 billion during the corresponding period (Jan. 20, 2009 – Dec. 2010) for the previous administration. In addition, with the allocations announced today, the present administration is committing to execute an additional four agreements for $1.5 billion in CIG funding if those projects continue to meet the CIG program requirements.

The projects included as part of the announcement are the Tempe Streetcar project in Arizona; the Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 project and San Diego Mid-Coast Light Rail project in California; the Minneapolis Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Minnesota; and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions project in Texas.

FTA indicated its intent to fund the projects through an updated allocation notice for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 CIG funding appropriated by Congress. FTA is allocating approximately $281 million in appropriated FY 2018 CIG funding among the five projects, which either have a construction grant agreement or are nearing completion of all statutory and readiness requirements. All five projects have either completed or are in process of completing the rigorous CIG program steps as outlined in the law.

“FTA continues to evaluate and advance projects in the CIG program, considering each project on its individual merits while demonstrating good governance consistent with discretion afforded in federal law,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

The CIG Program provides funding for major transit infrastructure capital investments nationwide. Projects accepted into the program must go through a multi-year, multi-step process according to requirements in law to be eligible for consideration to receive program funds.

New FY 2018 CIG Allocations

Tempe, AZ: Tempe Streetcar

The Tempe Streetcar is a three-mile streetcar with 14 stations and six vehicles that will connect downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. It also will connect with existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa and the airport. The total project cost is $201.9 million with $75 million in funding requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $25 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.

Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 Project

The Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 project is a 2.6-mile heavy rail extension from Century City to Westwood and the Veterans Affairs hospital that includes two stations and 16 vehicles. The total project cost is $3.7 billion with $1.3 billion in funding requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $100 million in FY 2018 CIG funds.

San Diego, CA: San Diego Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail Project

The San Diego Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail project is a 10.92-mile light rail extension from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area. The extension will improve access to employment hubs and numerous educational and medical facilities north of downtown. FTA announced a $1.04 billion grant agreement for the $2.17 billion project in September 2016. The project will receive an additional $80 million in FY 2018 CIG funds.

Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Orange Line BRT Project

The Minneapolis Orange Line BRT project is a 17-mile BRT along Interstate 35 linking job centers including downtown, Best Buy Headquarters, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Target Corporation, and Southtown Shopping Center. The total project cost is $150.7 million with $74.08 million requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $74.08 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.

Dallas, TX: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions Project

The DART Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions project will extend and modify platforms along the existing Red and Blue Lines to accommodate three-car trains with level boarding. The total project cost is $128.7 million with $60.76 million requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $2 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.

To date, FTA has allocated $1.86 billion of the $2.62 billion in FY 2018 CIG funds appropriated for projects by Congress. FTA will continue to consider additional FY 2018 CIG allocations, based on the merits of individual projects.

FTA increases random drug testing rate for 2019

As mandated by its drug and alcohol regulation, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will increase the minimum rate of random drug testing from 25 percent to 50 percent of covered employees for employers subject to FTA’s drug and alcohol regulation, effective January 1, 2019. This change is due to an increase in the industry’s ‘‘positive rate’’ as reflected in random drug test data for calendar year 2017.

The required minimum rate for random alcohol testing is unaffected by this change and will remain at 10 percent for 2019.

Click here to read FTA’s letter about this increase.

California and Oklahoma have their state safety oversight plans approved by FTA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced Oct. 23 that California and Oklahoma have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.

Twenty-seven of 30 states have received approval of their plans.

“FTA is pleased that California and Oklahoma have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With certification, transit agencies in California and Oklahoma can continue to receive federal funding.”

The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for providing safety oversight of the following rail transit agencies:

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District heavy rail, light rail and automated guideway systems;
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light rail, cable car and streetcar systems;
Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail system;
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail system
San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System light rail system;
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority light rail and heavy rail systems; and
North County Transit District light rail (trolley) system.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Oklahoma City streetcar system.

For the full release from FTA, follow this link.

U.S. GAO says FTA close to violating federal law by failing to address grant requirements

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not addressed three congressional requirements for their grants programs contained in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).

According to the GAO, the FTA has not:

  • issued regulations regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, which are a category of eligible projects within the program;
  • established a program of interrelated projects designed to allow for the simultaneous development of more than one transit project within the Capital Investment Grants program; or
  • implemented a pilot program designed to create a fast-track approval process for transit projects that meet specific statutory criteria.

During the review, FTA told GAO that they do not have any immediate plans to address any of the three statutory provisions. The FTA cited an earlier budget proposal by President Trump to eliminate the Capital Investment Grant program, however, Congress provided the program with $2.6 billion in funding since that proposal and required FTA to continue to administer the program in doing so.

The GAO left the FTA with three recommendations for Executive Action:

  1. The FTA administrator should initiate a rulemaking regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, consistent with statutory provisions.
  2. The FTA administrator should take steps, such as undertaking additional research or public outreach, to enable FTA to evaluate and rate projects in a program of interrelated projects, in a manner consistent with statutory provisions; and
  3. The FTA administrator should take steps to describe the process project sponsors should follow to apply for consideration as a pilot project under the Expedited Project Delivery for Capital Investment Grants Pilot Program.

FTA stated to the GAO that it is reviewing the law and determining their next steps but did not indicate any specific plans or timeframes for addressing the three outstanding provisions. In their report, the GAO warned the FTA that “by not addressing those provisions, FTA runs the risk of failing to implement provisions of federal law.”

Click here to read the GAO’s full report.


The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

FTA certifies state safety oversight programs of N.C., Wash. & Puerto Rico

States must receive FTA certification by April 15, 2019, or new federal transit funds cannot be awarded

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs, in advance of an important safety deadline.

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.

“FTA is pleased that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With this certification, transit agencies in the three jurisdictions can continue to receive federal funding.”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Charlotte Area Transit System light rail and streetcar systems.

The Puerto Rico Emergency and Disaster Management Bureau is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Tren Urbano heavy rail system.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Sound Transit light rail systems and City of Seattle street car and monorail systems.

By April 15, 2019, 30 states must obtain certification of 31 SSO programs. With today’s announcement, 17 states have now achieved SSO program certification.

If a state fails to meet the deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved. A certification status table by state is available online.

To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must be appropriately trained.

Secretary Chao pushes for autonomous buses, trains

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said at CES, an annual technology show in Las Vegas, that she plans to take steps toward creating policy guiding the development of self-driving transportation for trucks, buses, transit systems and trains. One of the steps that Chao plans to take toward creating this new policy is to deregulate these industries.

“I also want to take this opportunity to announce that the Department (DOT) will be seeking public input from across the transportation industry to identify existing barriers to innovation. This includes not only barriers that impact vehicles, but also impediments to innovations that can impact our highways, railroads, trains and motor carriers,” Chao said.

In response to Chao’s announcement, SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch wrote in an email, “This rush to autonomous vehicles of all kinds should worry all transportation workers.

“We have been working with Congress to limit legislation on self-driving vehicles to automobiles and to not include buses and trucks. So far our efforts on that front have been successful,” Risch said. “We will continue to work on this issue, but the times they are a-changing.”

As part of Chao’s efforts to deregulate the transportation industry, notices for public comment have appeared in the Federal Register on behalf of DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

FHWA

  • Click here to read the Request for Information on Integration of ADS into the Highway Transportation System as published by the Federal Register – to be published 01/18

FTA

  • Click here to read the Request for Comments on Automated Transit Buses Research Program as published in the Federal Register
  • Click here to read the Request for Comment on Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation

NHTSA

  • Click here to read the Request for Comment on Removing Regulatory Barriers for Automated Vehicles from the Federal Register

FTA issues final rule on safety program

FTAThe Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued the final rule for the Public Transportation Safety Program that establishes procedural rules for FTA to administer a comprehensive safety program to improve the safety of federally-funded public transportation systems. The final rule formally adopts the Safety Management System (SMS) approach to safety as the basis of the FTA safety program.

“With today’s action, FTA continues its steady progress in establishing the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen our new and existing safety transit oversight and enforcement authorities,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.

This rule also establishes procedural rules for the FTA to conduct inspections, investigations, audits and examinations of Chapter 53 grant recipients’ public transportation systems, withhold or direct the use of Federal transit funds, and issue directives.

FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight (TSO) will host webinars on Tuesday, August 30 from 2:00 – 3:00pm ET and Thursday, September 1 from 3:00 – 4:00pm ET to discuss the Public Transportation Safety Program Rule. Participants only need to register for one session. The webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the rule’s provisions and ask questions related to its implementation. 


Links:

Public Transportation Safety Program Final Rule

Register for the webinar on Tuesday, August 30 from 2:00 – 3:00pm ET

Register for the webinar on Thursday, September 1 from 3:00 – 4:00pm ET

FTA's TRACS reports on fatigue and worker assaults

FTAlogoWASHINGTON – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has recently accepted two reports from the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a safety committee established by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and compromised of transit industry stakeholders.

In Establishing a Fatigue Management Program for the Bus and Rail Industry, the report identifies the major organizational and behavioral challenges that may be faced in addressing transit employee fatigue and recommends components of a successful fatigue management program.

In Preventing and Mitigating Transit Worker Assaults in the Bus and Transit Industry, the report discusses the risks and impediments to a safe workplace and recommends a process and measures to reduce the hazards that enable these assaults.

FTA will review the recommendations from both reports as it considers possible future action on these safety issues.

FTA issues guidance on implementing ADA

FTAlogoWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today published detailed guidance to transit agencies on how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since the ADA became law in 1990, FTA has ensured that transit systems comply with the ADA’s provisions on public transportation, primarily through education and investigations of possible violations. To enhance understanding of the Act, the new circular offers a user-friendly, one-stop resource on its requirements.

“We have made great progress in advancing accessible public transportation, but we still have work to do,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx. “We must ensure that Americans of all ages and abilities can access our nation’s transportation system. Today’s guidance reinforces our commitment to full implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Public transit ridership increased 25 percent over the last 20 years, including a rise in the number of passengers with disabilities, according to DOT’s Beyond Traffic report. Transit agencies have made major capital investments to make nearly all of America’s busiest public transit stations accessible. Today, nearly all transit buses, light rail and heavy rail vehicles are ADA accessible, as well as two-thirds of rail transit stations.

“One of the important jobs we do at FTA is to ensure mobility for everyone, and this ADA Circular will help do just that,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “For people of all abilities and ages, public transportation provides a lifeline to jobs, education and medical care. We need to maintain these ladders of opportunity for all.”

With the 25th anniversary of the landmark legislation as a backdrop, the release of FTA’s ADA Circular represents a major milestone in assistance to the transit community. It thoroughly explains ADA requirements for public transit, providing real-life situations as examples of good practices for the transit industry to ensure accessible services for riders. The document does not amend or supersede the DOT ADA regulations; rather, it offers explanatory scenarios and sample templates, such as a rail station checklist for new construction and alterations.

FTA developed the ADA Circular in three phases because of the breadth of the regulations. Each chapter was submitted to the public for notice and comment in the Federal Register and went through a 60-day comment period.

Foxx announces grants to promote transit jobs

FTAlogoLOS ANGELES – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced $9.5 million in grants to 19 projects in 13 states selected to help train a new generation of skilled workers and support long-term careers in the public transportation industry. The announcement was made at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC), and the grants are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development program.

“The public transit industry offers good-paying careers that can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and more of these careers will be available in the future,” said Secretary Foxx. “These grants will help us overcome skills gaps and provide more young people with the training, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities they need to gain entry into these careers.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor today released a joint report entitled “Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry.” The report details the future growth areas or employment “hot spots” in transportation by industry subsectors, occupations, career areas, and geographic areas.

Secretary Foxx was joined by FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, executives from LATTC, Community Career Development, Inc. (CCD), the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and state and local officials. Students from LATTC’s Transportation Technologies program were also on hand to speak about their experiences and demonstrate the skills they have learned at LATTC.

“The demand for skilled transit workers will continue to grow as new projects are planned, built, and come on line and as ridership continues to expand in cities like Los Angeles and other communities across the country,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan. “And we are committed to making careers in transit a real ladder to opportunity by helping provide education and financial security, especially for those in disadvantaged communities.”

Two organizations in Los Angeles were selected in this latest round of FTA workforce development grants: LATTC will receive funding to establish the Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training – the first program of its kind in a community college in the country; and CCD will receive funding for its Moving Employees into Transit Related Opportunities (METRO) program, which will partner with organizations like LA Valley College to recruit and train low-income individuals, women, veterans, minorities, and others from communities throughout Metropolitan Los Angeles.

FTA’s workforce development projects will develop or expand strategic partnerships with transit agencies, labor unions, nonprofits, and academic institutions, and some will also support small businesses in the transit sector owned by women and minorities. In addition, several projects will serve as scalable models that can be applied to future projects throughout the United States.

Among the projects selected nationwide:

  • The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive funding for the Career Pathways Program, which will address all aspects of the transit workforce by leveraging partnerships with Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, and El Barrio Workforce Development Center.
  • Intercity Transit in Olympia, WA, will receive funding for its innovative Village Vans program, which aims to serve as a national model for rural transit agencies with large service areas. Like many rural agencies, Intercity Transit relies on volunteer drivers to meet its operational needs, and Village Vans provides volunteers free workforce training that prepares them for potential employment with Intercity Transit or other positions related to vehicle operations.
  • The Grand Gateway Economic Development Association in Northeast Oklahoma will receive funding to establish the N2N Automotive University. This program will identify and train participants, including those from impoverished Native American communities, in automotive repair skills that can be applied to transit vehicles as well as a range of automotive careers. This project will use an innovative Nation-to-Nation (N2N) recruitment strategy.

Eligible applicants included public transportation providers at the state, local, and regional level, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Native American tribes, non-profit institutions, and institutions of higher education. A list of selected projects is available online.

Demand for FTA’s workforce grants far exceeded available funds, as FTA received a total of 50 applications requesting over $27 million. The Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act would provide $478 billion over the next six years to help build the transportation workforce of the future, providing consistent long-term funding for transportation and infrastructure.

These grants come at a crucial time in the transportation industry. According to the Strengthening Skills Training report, employers will need to hire and train a total of 4.6 million new workers – 1.2 times the current transportation workforce – due to expected growth, retirements, and turnover in the transportation industry from 2012 to 2022.

It is projected that 417,000 of these positions will be created as a direct result to increased demand on our transportation systems, and the highest percentage of these jobs will be in transit and ground passenger transportation.

FTA proposes rule to establish transit safety program

FTAlogoWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA)  announced a proposed rule to establish a Public Transportation Safety Program under FTA’s new safety oversight authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The proposed rule would create an overall framework for FTA to monitor, oversee and enforce safety in the public transit industry, and is based on the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems (SMS).

“Every day, millions of Americans take public transportation to get to work, school, medical appointments, and other important destinations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This new program will help us ensure that transit continues to be a safe way to get around, and a safe place to work.”

The proposed rule would implement FTA’s authority to conduct inspections, audits, and examinations; testing of equipment, facilities, rolling stock, and the operations of a public transit systems; and for FTA to take appropriate enforcement actions, including directing the use or withholding of Federal funds and issuing directives and advisories. The rule would establish SMS as the foundation for FTA’s safety program, which focuses on organization-wide safety policy and accountability, proactive hazard identification, and risk-based decision-making.

The proposed rule also defines the contents of a National Public Transportation Safety Plan (National Safety Plan), which FTA expects to publish in a separate Federal Register notice for public review and comment in the next several months. The National Plan will include safety performance criteria for all modes of public transportation, minimum safety performance standards for transit vehicles used in revenue operations, the definition of “state of good repair,” a Safety Certification Training Program, and other content determined by FTA.

“With transit ridership at its highest levels in generations, and our nation’s transit agencies facing increased pressure to meet the demand for service, we must continue to ensure that safety remains the top priority,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This rulemaking is a major step forward in establishing FTA’s safety regulatory framework, as all future safety-related rules, regulations and guidance will be informed by the Public Transportation Safety Program.”

Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by October 13, 2015.

Earlier this year, FTA announced a proposed rule to increase oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) for rail transit systems, and the publication of a final interim safety certification training program. By early 2016, FTA expects to issue a final SSOA rule, as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish permanent training provisions.