Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Planning · Environment · Real Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Glossary Awards Contacts

Tribal Transportation Funding Resources

D. Public Transportation Programs

This federal-aid program supports all forms of public transportation. It addresses the mass transportation needs of State, regional, local and Tribal governments and is administered by the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA).1 This section begins with a Funding Authorizations Table followed by descriptions of each funding program.

Table 3: Federal Public Transportation Funds - Funding Authorizations Table FFYs 2005 - 2009 (in Millions)

Program / Funding 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
D.1 Elderly and Persons with Disabilities 94.7 112 117 127 133.5 584.2
D.2 Rural and Small Urban Areas 250.9 388 404 438 465 1,945.9
D.3 Job Access and Reverse Commute 124 138 144 156 165 727.0
D.4 New Freedom 0 78 81 87.5 92.5 339.0

D.1 Transportation for Elderly and Persons with Disabilities Program (5310)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Transportation for Elderly and Persons with Disabilities program is to accommodate the transportation needs of the elderly and persons with disabilities where public transportation services are unavailable, insufficient or inappropriate. The program is designed to supplement other FTA capital assistance programs by funding projects for the elderly and disabled in all areas - urbanized, small urban and rural. Funds are apportioned based on each State's share of population for these groups. States must apply for funds on behalf of local private non-profit agencies and certain public bodies.

Program Eligibility: Program funds may be used for eligible capital expenses needed for specialized transportation services. Projects must provide the maximum feasible coordination of transportation services and the maximum feasible participation of private-for-profit operators. Grants may be used for:

Transportation for Elderly and Persons with Disabilities Program (Section 5310)

Federal Participation: 80%

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Formula Grant

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory Reference: 49 5310

Administering Agency: US DOT - FTA

Other:

  1. Program funds are allocated to States by formula based on the population of elderly persons and persons with disabilities.
  2. SAFETEA-LU allows States eligible for sliding scale match - under FHWA programs - to use match ratio for capital projects.
  3. Funds provided under other federal programs (other than US DOT with the exception of the Federal Lands Highway) may be used as match for capital funds.
  4. The State must be designated by the Governor to administer the program. It must submit to FTA a program-of-projects identifying all sub-recipients and projects.
  5. Program projects must be included in the STIP.
  6. Compliance with FTA's annual list of certifications and assurances is required.
  7. Eligible sub-recipients include a) private non-profit organizations, b) public bodies approved by the State to coordinate services and c) public bodies which certify that no non-profit corporation or association is readily available in an area to provide the services.

Program Contact: US DOT, FTA, Office of Program Management, East Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-2053.

D.2 Rural and Small Urban Areas Program (5311)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Rural and Small Urban Areas program is to (a) improve, initiate or continue public transportation service in non-urbanized area (rural and small areas under 50,000 population) and (b) provide technical assistance for rural transportation providers. The goals of the program are to:

Rural and Small Urban Areas Program

Federal Participation:

  • 50% - Operating Assistance
  • 80% - Capital / Project Administration
  • 90% - Capital and Project Administration

    for projects compliant with ADA and CAAA

    or bicycle access projects

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Formula Grant

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory Reference: 49 U.S.C. 5311

Administering Agency: US DOT - FTA

An additional program purpose is to provide direct grants to Tribal governments for the provision of public transportation on Indian reservations (through a set aside within the larger program). The Public Transportation on Indian Reservations program is a component of this program. Authorizations for the Tribal component total about $45M - with $8M in 2006, $10M in 2007, $12M in 2008 and $15M in 2009.

Program Eligibility: Funds may be used for capital, operating and project administration assistance to State agencies, local public bodies and nonprofit organizations, including Tribal governments and Tribal operators of public transportation services.

Other:

  1. State apportionments are based on a statutory formula with 20% allocated by the ratio of non-urbanized land area of each State to the non-urbanized land area of all States, with no State receiving more than 5% of funds.
  2. A State agency must be designated by the Governor to administer the program.
  3. Funded projects must be listed in the STIP.
  4. The State and its sub-recipients must agree to a standard labor protection warranty and environmental assessments may be required.
  5. Compliance with the FTA annual list of certifications and assurances is required.
  6. States must spend 15% of funds to support rural inter-city bus service unless the Governor certifies this service is adequately met.
  7. Other federal funds may be used for half of the local match requirement. Income from purchase-of-service contracts with human service agencies may be used for the entire local share for operating assistance.

Program Contact: US DOT, FTA, Office of Resource Management and State Programs, East Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-2053.

D.3 Job Access and Reverse Commute Formula Program (5316)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Job Access and Reverse Commute program is to provide grants to local governments, nonprofit organizations and designated recipients of federal transit funding. It is meant to connect welfare recipients and low-income persons to employment and support services.

Job Access and Reverse Commute Program

Federal Participation:

  • 80% - Capital Projects
  • 50% - Operating Projects

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Project Grant

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

  • SAFETEA-LU Section 5316
  • 49 U.S.C. 5317

Administering Agency: US DOT - FTA

Program Eligibility: Job Access grants finance the planning, capital and operating cost of eligible transit projects. Reverse Commute grants finance reverse commute bus, train and carpool services from urban, rural and suburban locations to suburban work places. Eligible activities include:

Eligible applicants are State and local government agencies, non-profit agencies and transit providers. Eligible beneficiaries are low-income individuals and those traveling to suburban work places.

Other:

  1. A funded project must be a product of a locally coordinated public transit human services plan, competitively selected and included in the STIP prior to grant award.
  2. To access funds, the recipient must execute a grant agreement with the FTA.
  3. Other federal funds may be used for local match, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services temporary assistance to needy families, the US Department of Labor welfare-to-work and the FHWA state planning and research funds.
  4. 60% of funds must be distributed among recipients in urbanized areas with populations of 200,000 or more in the ratio that bears to the number of recipients in all urbanized areas.
  5. 20% of funds must be distributed to States in the ratio that the number of eligible low-income individuals and welfare recipients in urbanized areas (with populations of less than 200,000) in each State bears to the number in all urbanized areas.
  6. 20% of funds must be distributed to States in the ratio that the number of eligible low-income individuals and welfare recipients (in other than urbanized areas) in each State bears to the number in all other than urbanized areas.

Program Contacts: US DOT, FTA, Office of Transit Programs, East Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-2053.

D.4 New Freedom Program (5317)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the New Freedom program is to provide grants for public transportation services and alternatives beyond those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The program is intended to assist disabled individuals with transportation to and from jobs and employment services.

New Freedom Program

Federal Participation:

  • 80% - Capital Expenses
  • 50% - Operating Assistance
  • 905 - ADA and Clean Air Act
  • 100% - Planning, Administration, Technical Assistance

Period Available: FFY 06-07

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Project Grant

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

  • SAFETEA-LU Section 5317
  • 49 U.S.C. 5317

Administering Agency: US DOT - FTA

Program Eligibility: To be eligible, a project must be a new or alternative public transportation service beyond that required by the ADA.

Other:

  1. An eligible recipient is designated by the Governor of the State in consultation with local officials and local public transportation providers in urbanized areas with populations above 200,000.
  2. The State is the eligible recipient in urbanized areas between 50,000 and 200,000 population and in non-urbanized (rural) areas.
  3. Public agencies, nonprofit agencies, public transportation providers, private transportation providers and human services transportation providers are eligible grant sub-recipients.
  4. State funding is apportioned by formula:
    • 60% is apportioned for areas of 200,000 or more in population in the ratio that the number of individuals with disabilities in each urbanized area bears to the number in all urbanized areas.
    • 20% is apportioned among States in the ratio that the number of individuals with disabilities in urbanized areas (with population of less than 200,000) in each State bears to the number in all States.
    • 20% is apportioned among States in the ratio that the number of individuals with disabilities (in other than urbanized areas) of each State bears to the number in all States.
  5. Submission of a FTA application for funds is required. A resolution by the authorized public body approving the filing of the application is required.
  6. Applications must include information on legal capacity, coordinated regional planning and compliance with FTA certifications and assurances.
  7. Funded programs and projects must be included in a locally-coordinated public transit human service transportation plan, an urbanized area transportation improvement program (TIP) and in the STIP.

Program Contact: US DOT, FTA, Office of Transit Programs, East Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-2053.

1 The Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program is a component of the Rural and Small Urban Areas Program. Authorizations for the Tribal program total about $45M.

Updated: 12/19/2013
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000