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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These FAQs are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. FTA recipients and subrecipients should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.

Answer:

Yes, it is permissible for a recipient to request the reallocation of a portion of a project’s proposed scope, provided that the remaining scope results in a viable project with an independent resilience benefit. In this case, the recipient should submit a revised project budget breakdown reflecting the reduced scope. 

Answer:

Eligible applicants include designated recipients, states, local governmental authorities, and Indian tribes. Eligible subrecipients may partner with eligible recipients but cannot be the primary applicant.

Answer:

An eligible recipient may partner with other entities that will assist in implementing the project. If an application that includes a partnership is awarded, then the competition itself fulfills the competitive procurement requirement. This provision only applies to the Low-No Program. Please refer to the Eligible Applicants and Project Implementation Strategy sections in the NOFO for additional information.

Answer:

States may apply for an amount that is less than what is available under the SSO Formula Grant Program. States may ask FTA to later amend the grant to add all or a portion of the remaining available funds until the end of the period of availability, which is one year from the end of the fiscal year that the grant funds are apportioned.

Answer:

Yes. At least until one year after the effective date of a final rule to require public transportation agency safety plans (PTASP) (49 U.S.C. § 5329(d)), a state may use SSO formula grant funding to comply with security requirements under 49 U.S.C. part 659. FTA will issue further guidance on this issue after publication of the final PTASP rule.

Answer:

Yes. At least until one year after the effective date of a final rule to require public transportation agency safety plans (PTASP) (49 U.S.C. § 5329(d)), a state may use SSO formula grant funding to comply with security requirements under 49 U.S.C. part 659. FTA will issue further guidance on this issue after publication of the final Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) rule.

Answer:

No. However, if a transit agency allocates project management or oversight staff time to an otherwise eligible ER project, that time would be an eligible expense for that project.

Answer:

Under the terms of a Memorandum of Agreement between FEMA and FTA, if and when FTA has funding available after a disaster for emergency relief, FTA will be the primary provider of transit-related emergency relief.

Due to the timing of FTA’s Emergency Relief funding becoming available, some transit agencies may have already received reimbursement for hurricane related expenses from FEMA. These reimbursements are allowable under the terms of the FTA-FEMA agreement, however, any expenses previously reimbursed by FEMA are not eligible for assistance under FTA’s ER program.

If a transit agency has disaster expenses under review by FEMA that have not yet been reimbursed , these must be transferred to FTA’s ER program. This includes expenses that have already been submitted to FEMA but have not yet been disbursed.

If a transit agency provided services that are not eligible under the FTA ER program, such as providing emergency shelter or meals to evacuees, the transit agency may seek reimbursement for those expenses from FEMA subject to all applicable FEMA requirements. If the transit agency also provided services eligible under FTA’s ER program, the transit agency may receive funds from both FTA and FEMA.

Answer:

Yes. It’s important to remember, though, that all ADA paratransit service criteria apply:
Origin-to-destination service
Service area (at least ¾-mile on either side of a fixed route)
Response time (next-day, with advance reservation and real-time scheduling permitted)
Fares (not more than twice the regular fixed-route fare for a comparable trip)
No restrictions on trip purpose
Hours and days of service (at least the same as fixed route)
No capacity constraints

Answer:

No, the HMCE analysis should always reflect the total project cost, as the analysis is based on the costs and benefits of the project to society, not to the Federal government. The application should clearly identify both the total project cost and the requested Federal funding amount.

Answer:

No. Environmental justice stems from an executive order from the President of the United States to Federal agencies and is intended to improve the internal management of the Federal government; therefore, it does not create legal rights enforceable by a party against the United States.

Answer:

CNG vehicles are eligible, but CNG-powered vehicles may not be rated as highly as other alternative fuel projects that have lower emission than CNG. Propane-powered vehicles are also eligible. Please refer to Eligible Projects section in the NOFO. Proposed vehicles must make greater reductions in energy consumption and harmful emissions, including direct carbon emissions, than comparable standard buses or other low or no emission buses (49 USC 5339(c)(5)(A).

Answer:

ER funds allocated to repair damage to a facility may be used for another eligible project at the discretion of the grant recipient. However, the purchase or construction of a new replacement facility is only eligible if the damaged facility for which funds are allocated is not repairable and must be rebuilt.

Answer:

No. Please see section 4.2.2 “Federal/Local Cost Sharing” in FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for additional details on matching funds.

Answer:

ER funds cannot be used for projects for which FTA has already obligated funds. For example, if FTA has obligated funding to replace a piece of equipment but before the equipment is replaced it is damaged or destroyed during a disaster, ER funds cannot be used to replace that piece of equipment at a greater Federal share. The previously obligated grant and its corresponding Federal share must be utilized.

However, if a project with an obligated grant is under construction and is damaged, any additional expense to repair the damage may be eligible under the ER program, depending on the type of project, the type of damage, and what entity was responsible for the project at the time of the storm.

Answer:

It depends. FTA grant recipients are responsible for ensuring FTA funds are used for eligible expenses. The eligibility of shared mobility services will depend largely on the specific contracts entered into between FTA recipients and third parties, such as shared mobility operators.  When structuring such contracts, grantees should consider whether the terms of service will meet the legal definition of public transportation, for example, or whether such service may be permitted as an alternative to public transportation within several of FTA’s grant programs. 
FTA funds may be used to reimburse recipients for expenses associated with public transportation capital projects, and in some cases, for the costs of operating transit service. The statutory definition (49 U.S.C. § 5302) of public transportation is “regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or a segment of the general public defined by age, disability or low-income.”  
Examples of eligible public transportation capital projects include constructing waiting or pick-up/drop off areas at a transit facility, or providing information technology (IT) systems that support the use of shared mobility services.
When federal public transportation law allows funding for transit operating expenses, such as in small urban and rural areas, or for job access and reverse commute activities and ADA paratransit services, FTA may reimburse a transit agency for the costs of contracting with a shared mobility operator to provide shared ride service to the general public. This may be an option for off-peak services or first-mile/last-mile transportation. Where contract services are used, the transit agency must ensure that civil rights obligations continue to be met, as noted in the Americans with Disabilities Act FAQs.
In addition, FTA funds may also be used to support operating or capital costs for alternatives to public transportation, particularly under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) program or as a job access and reverse commute project under FTA’s rural and urban formula programs. Such costs may include the costs of contracting with a taxi company or shared mobility operator to provide exclusive ride service or for voucher programs.

Answer:

Yes, this is allowable, provided that the contract was compliant with all Federal requirements, including competitive procurement, and funds can be properly tracked and allocated to the relevant award.

Answer:

No. The only Federal funds that can be used in place of local share for the FTA Emergency Relief Program are funds, which by statute lose their federal identity and can be used as match for other Federal programs, such as Community Development Block Grant funds.

Answer:

Yes. Many disaster recovery projects will involve changes and improvements to damaged assets that will increase resilience to future disasters. In cases where the improvements are functionally integrated with the recovery project, these improvements may be conducted with recovery funding. This includes improvements to comply with building codes, FEMA flood elevations, relocating equipment within a structure, and similar improvements. Resilience improvements that are associated with, but not integrated into a recovery project must be completed with dedicated resilience funding. This includes additions to existing structures such as flood barriers, backup power units, new drainage systems, and similar projects. When a project involves both functionally integrated resilience improvements and new resilience elements, FTA recommends submitting activities that will use both recovery and resilience funding as separate projects within the grant to ensure the requirements associated with each funding type are applied and tracked properly.

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