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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23004.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23004.
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Page 5
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23004.
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1 INTRODUCTION SAFETEA-LU, since its authorization in August 2005, has provided a significant level of new funding for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funded programs serving rural areas, including: • Funding levels were increased for Section 5311 and Section 5310 (the Section 5310 program serves both urban and rural areas),1 • The Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program was formularized and its funding level increased, and • Three new formula programs were created and funded (New Freedom, Indian Tribal Transportation, and Transit in the Parks). Figure 1 highlights the increases in funding levels for federal transit programs that serve rural areas. The growing level of total federal funds is the direct result of additional available funds made available by FTA within each program, coupled with new programs established through federal legislation. It is clear that with SAFETEA- LU, an infusion of new funds were channeled to the transit industry. As the FTA, Congress, and other stakeholders prepare for the next funding reauthorization cycle, they are interested in understanding what this new funding has achieved. The new programs created under SAFETEA-LU which fund rural transit are: • Tribal Transit Program (Section 5311(c)): The Tribal Transit Program is a takedown program (a deduction prior to apportioning funds to states) of the Section 5311 program. Direct eligible recipients for this program are federally- recognized Indian tribes, and grants are awarded through an annual national competitive selection process conducted by FTA. Tribal Transit Program funds may be used for any purpose that is eligible under Section 5311, including planning, capital, and operating assistance for rural public transit services, and support for rural intercity bus service. 1Section 5311 includes funding for intercity bus through Section 5311(f). This program has always been provided as a requirement that the states spend 15% of their overall Section 5311 funding allocation on rural intercity projects, unless the governor or designee certified that there were no unmet rural intercity transportation needs. SAFETEA-LU includes statutory requirements that FTA require that states engage in a consultation process with intercity bus carriers prior to any such certification, and this requirement has been included in the revised Section 5311 Circular FTAC 9040.1F, Chapter VII Intercity Bus.

2 • New Freedom Program (Section 5317): This program funds new public transportation services and public transportation alternatives beyond those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to assist people with disabilities with transportation, including transportation to and from jobs and employment support services. Nationally, 20% of these funds are apportioned to states for use in rural areas. The state-level designated recipient conducts a statewide solicitation for grant applications from rural areas. Beginning in FY 2007, New Freedom projects must be derived from a locally developed, coordinated public transit human services transportation plan which also addresses JARC and Section 5310 projects. • Alternative Transportation in the Parks and Public Lands (Section 5320): Also referred to as Transit in the Parks, this program funds capital and planning expenses for alternative transportation systems in parks and public lands. It is administered jointly with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. Eligible applicants include Federal land management agencies and State, tribal, and local governments with jurisdiction over land in the vicinity of an eligible area. In addition to transit services, alternative transportation includes bicycle, pedestrian and non-motorized watercraft projects.

Figure 1 - Federal Transit Programs Administered by the States 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1,000 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Fu nd in g (in m ill io ns o f d ol la rs ) Elderly and Persons with Disabilities - S.5310 Non-Urbanized Formula Program - S.5311 Growing State Apportionment for Rural - S.5340 RTAP Job Access and Reverse Commute - S.5316 New Freedom - S.5317 Federal Funding (Total) Milestones ISTEA TEA 21 SAFETEA-LU Obligated Funds Authorized Funds 3

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TRB’s Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Web-Only Document 46: Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU (the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) explores data and information on the changes in rural public and intercity bus transportation that have resulted from the increases in funding made available through SAFETEA-LU. The summary of the report is available online as TCRP Research Results Digest 93.

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