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Check out the 2015 TAM Award Winners!

DRAFT MTA Section 5339 State Management Plan Available for Review

MTA's draft State Management Plan for the Section 5339 Program is available for download and review. You can find it on the TAM Office of Local Transit Support page under the heading MTA's State Management Plans. Please send all comments on the plan to Program Manager James Raszewski at

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. 

The Fall 2015 issue of the Maryland Transit Update is here!

This issue includes a retrospective on the 2015 TAM Expo, state and federal rule updates, the 2015 TAM Annual Excellence award winners, and much more.

Check it out!

FTA Announces TIGER Discretionary Grants

Project selections for the seventh round of DOT's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program were announced on October 29, 2015. The Department will provide nearly $500 million for 39 projects in 34 states, with some projects spanning several states.

TIGER 2015 discretionary grants were awarded to fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a region, or a metropolitan area. As with the previous six rounds of TIGER, the competition was rigorous, with 627 eligible applications requesting $10.1 billion or 20 times the available funding.

With its 2015 selections, TIGER continues to invest in transformative projects that will provide significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions.  The awards recognize projects nationwide that will advance key transportation goals such as safety, innovation, and opportunity.

Maryland award

APPLICANT/SPONSOR: City of Baltimore TIGER GRANT AWARD: $10,000,000 TOTAL PROJECT COST: $27,500,000

Southeast Baltimore Port Industry Freight Corridor Plan APPLICANT/SPONSOR: City of Baltimore TIGER GRANT AWARD: $10,000,000 TOTAL PROJECT COST: $27,500,000 PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This TIGER grant will provide funding to restore functionality to and enhance a freight network of roads and bridges that connects the Port of Baltimore to regional and national highway systems. The project includes the replacement of the structurally deficient and functionally obsolete Colgate Creek Bridge, roadway improvements connecting freight directly to I-95 to enhance truck movement, and complete streets improvements.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Approves Multi-Year Surface Transportation Legislation 

On Thursday, October 22, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved by unanimous voice vote H.R. 3764, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015,

One of the amendments that was accepted by the committee was one offered by Representative Lipinski, that would provide for FTA technical assistance for compliance with Buy America domestic content requirements. 

The full text of the bill as introduced (prior to committee consideration and amendment) may be found here

It is anticipated that this bill will come before the full House of Representatives next week, or the week following. The current extended MAP-21 authorization expires on October 29th, making another short-term extension inevitable to allow for time for the Senate and House of Representatives to have a conference to reconcile differences in the chambers' long-term surface transportation bills. 

Federal Re-authorization news, new bill called Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRRA)

On Friday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. (full bill here). The Committee will mark-up the bill this Thursday morning at 10:00am. Because the current MAP-21 extension expires at the end of October, I expect another short-term extension. It is also important to note that this House bill was not accompanied by a corresponding funding bill from the House Ways and Means Committee, and that (like its Senate counterpart) it includes only three years of funding for a six-year bill. 

Here's a look at some of the STRR Act's specifics: 

Section 5307 (Urban formula program)

• Fixes the 100 bus language and its fixed-route bus only flexibility by adding general public demand response operators to the operating funding flexibility.

Section 5309 (New Starts)

• Changes local share from 80 percent to 50 percent.

Section 5310

• Adds the following: BEST PRACTICES.—The Secretary shall collect from, review, and disseminate to public transit agencies innovative practices, program models, new service delivery options, findings from activities under subsection (h), and transit cooperative research program reports.

Section 5311

• Adds the following language to rural public transportation’s non-federal share: may be provided in cash from non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public transportation services; may be provided from revenues from the sale of advertising and concessions.

• Adds to the eligibility of intercity bus in non-federal share the following language: including all operating and capital costs of such service whether or not offset by revenue from such service.

Section 5323 (General Provisions)

• Allows for the following: ACQUISITION OF BASE-MODEL BUSES.—A grant for the acquisition of a base-model bus for use in public transportation may be not more than 85 percent of the net project cost.

• Changes the domestic content of rolling stock (buses) to 60 percent in 2016 and 2017, 65 percent in 2018 and 2019, and 70 percent in 2020 and 2021.


Section 5329 (Safety)

• Adds to the proscribed contents of the National Public Transportation Safety Plan the following: best practices standards developed by the public transportation industry; and any minimum safety standards or performance criteria being implemented across the public transportation industry.

Section 5339 (Bus and Bus Facilities)

• First, STTR creates a new State Pool program within the 5339 program:

‘‘(4) PILOT PROGRAM FOR COST-EFFECTIVE CAPITAL INVESTMENT.—(A) IN GENERAL.—For each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021, the Secretary shall carry out a pilot program under which an eligible designated recipient (as described in sub-section (c)(1)) in an urbanized area with population of not less than 200,000 and not more than 999,999 may elect to participate in a State pool in accordance with this paragraph.

(B) PURPOSE OF STATE POOLS.—The purpose of a State pool shall be to allow for transfers of formula grant funds made available under this subsection among the designated recipients participating in the State pool in a manner that supports the transit asset management plans of the designated recipients under section 5326.

(C) REQUESTS FOR PARTICIPATION.—A State, and designated recipients in the State described in subparagraph (A), may submit to the Secretary a request for participation in the program under procedures to be established by the Secretary. A designated recipient for a multistate area may participate in only 1 State pool.

(D) ALLOCATIONS TO PARTICIPATING STATES.—For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall allocate to each State participating in the program the total amount of funds that otherwise would be allocated to the urbanized areas of the designated recipients participating in the State’s pool for that fiscal year pursuant to the formula referred to in paragraph (1).

(E) ALLOCATIONS TO DESIGNATED RECIPIENTS IN STATE POOLS.—A State shall distribute the amount that is allocated to the State for a fiscal year under subparagraph (D) among the designated recipients participating in the State’s pool in a manner that supports the transit asset management plans of the recipients under section 5326.

(F) ALLOCATION PLANS.—A State participating in the program shall develop an allocation plan for the period of fiscal years 2016 through 2021 to ensure that a designated recipient participating in the State’s pool receives under the program an amount of funds that equals the amount of funds that would have otherwise been available to the designated recipient for that period pursuant to the formula referred to in paragraph (1).

(G) GRANTS.—The Secretary shall make grants under this subsection for a fiscal year to a designated recipient participating in a State pool following notification by the State of the allocation amount determined under subparagraph (E).


• Second, the STRRA creates a Competitive program within the Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities program:

COMPETITIVE GRANTS FOR BUS STATE OF GOOD REPAIR.—(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may make grants under this subsection to eligible recipients described in subsection (b)(1) to assist in financing capital projects described in subsection (a).

GRANT CONSIDERATIONS.—In making grants under this subsection, the Secretary shall consider the age and condition of buses, bus fleets, related equipment, and bus-related facilities of an eligible recipient.

STATEWIDE APPLICATIONS.—A State may submit a statewide application on behalf of a public agency or private nonprofit organization engaged in public transportation in rural areas or other areas for which the State allocates funds. The submission of a statewide application shall not preclude the submission and consideration of any application under this subsection from other eligible recipients in an urbanized area in a State.

REQUIREMENTS FOR SECRETARY.—The Secretary shall—disclose all metrics and evaluation procedures to be used in considering grant applications under this subsection upon issuance of the notice of funding availability in the Federal Register; and publish a summary of final scores for selected projects, metrics, and other evaluations used in awarding grants under this subsection in the Federal Register.

AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS.—Any amounts made available to carry out this subsection—shall remain available for 2 fiscal years after the fiscal year for which the amount is made available; and following the period of availability shall be made available to be apportioned under subsection (c) for the following fiscal year. 

LIMITATION.—Of the amounts made available under this subsection, not more than 15 percent in fiscal year 2016 and not more than 5 percent in each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 may be awarded to a single recipient.

GRANT FLEXIBILITY.—If the Secretary determines that there are not sufficient grant applications that meet the metrics described in paragraph (4)(A) to utilize the full amount of funds made available to carry out this subsection for a fiscal year, the Secretary may use the remainder of the funds for making apportionments under sections 5307 and 5311.

GENERALLY APPLICABLE PROVISIONS.—GRANT REQUIREMENTS.—A grant under this section shall be subject to the requirements of—(A) section 5307 for recipients of grants made in urbanized areas; and section 5311 for recipients of grants made in rural areas.

GOVERNMENT’S SHARE OF COSTS.—CAPITAL PROJECTS.—A grant for a capital project under this section shall be for 80 percent of the net capital costs of the project. A recipient of a grant under this section may provide additional local matching amounts. REMAINING COSTS.—The remainder of the net project cost shall be provided—(i) in cash from non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public transportation services; (ii) from revenues derived from the sale of advertising and concessions; (iii) from an undistributed cash surplus, a replacement or depreciation cash fund or reserve, or new capital; or (iv) from amounts received under a service agreement with a State or local social service agency or private social service organization.

Funding Levels

To view a series of charts CTAA created that compare the House (STRR Act) and Senate (DRIVE Act) bills in terms of funding levels, please go here

Special thanks to Scott Bogren from CTAA for pulling this article together.

Scott Bogren

1341 G Street, NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005


Ron Skotz of RTA joins the TAM Board of Directors

TAM would like to welcome Ron Skotz of the Regional Transit Agency of Central Maryland to the TAM Board of Directors. Ron has many years of experience in Maryland transit, and currently works as the procurement manager at RTA. Ron Skotz has a great deal of familiarity with TAM, having served previously on the board, and will be working closely with the Government Affairs committee to advance legislative issues important to TAM members.

KFH Group's Paratransit Dialysis Study is now available

Nationwide, it is estimated that the number of people needing kidney dialysis is growing at a rate of 10% annually. Usually dialysis treatments are required three times a week, Monday through Saturday. The Maryland General Assembly commissioned this study to estimate both the demand for paratransit to dialysis centers, and the funding that would be required if public transit agencies were to meet that demand. The full study can be read at the following link:

Study of Paratransit Services for Dialysis

MDOT'S Annual CTP Tour Schedule

The Maryland Department of Transportation has rolled out its annual Consolidated Transportation Plan (CTP) Tour.  Each year, Secretary Rahn and his staff conduct a series of meetings in each of the Counties where they meet with local elected officials and present the Department’s Draft CTP for the up coming fiscal year.  This meeting gives folks on a local level the opportunity to present their ideas and concerns directly MDOT officials.  These meetings are also staffed by MTA representatives and present those of us who are reliant on MTA and MDOT grant funding to network and plead our case for sustaining existing funding levels or ask for more if you dare.   The following link contains the tour schedule.

Queen Anne's County Ride gets new Transit Administrator

On July 29th, 2015,  Anne Van Benschoten was appointed Transit Administrator of Queen Anne’s County Ride., replacing Steve Scott. Ms. Van Benschoten previously served as Project Coordinator for thirteen years at Chesapeake College, where she was responsible for the management and day-to-day operations of Chesapeake Helps. She has experience in budgeting, grant management, marketing and managing. We congratulate Ms. Van Benschoten on her new position and looks forward to working with her and seeing her at the Expo.

America's Bus Crisis

TAM and CTAA unite in asking Congress to revamp FTA’s Section 5309 Bus replacement program

By now many if not all of our members who provide public transit services have felt the impact of Map-21 on FTA’s section 5309 program.  As many of the vehicles purchased under AARA program reach the end of their useful life many of our members are experiencing first hand the challenges associated with not having a dedicated and reliable funding source for buses. 

Between 2008 and 2012, more than 85% of transit systems nationwide slashed service or raised fares -- some multiple times -- due to shortages in state and local funds.  Now, a new post-recession wave of route eliminations and fare increases threatens to once again leave transit-dependent people with no ride to work, the grocery store, the doctor, and other essential destinations. Transit systems are being forced to make tough decisions on which routes to cut, and invariably, it’s the worker who relies on the late night bus to get home or the reverse commuter that pays the price.  

TAM has joined with the Community Transportation Association of America and transit organizations and advocates from across the country to urge congress to increase capital bus funding to levels consistent with our national needs. We encourage all people concerned with the state of American public transit to contact their elected officials and tell them that our country cannot afford an obsolete transit system.

TAM's letter to congress