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Formula Grants for Rural Areas: Guidance and Application Instructions

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses

Formula Grants for Rural Areas: Guidance and Application Instructions

Therese W. McMillan
Federal Transit Administration
October 24, 2014

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 206 (Friday, October 24, 2014)]
[Pages 63663-63668]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-25309]



Federal Transit Administration

[Docket No. FTA-2013-0023]

Formula Grants for Rural Areas: Guidance and Application 

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

[[Page 63664]]

ACTION: Notice of availability of final circular.


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has placed in the 
docket and on its Web site, guidance in the form of a circular to 
assist grantees in implementing the Section 5311 Rural Area Formula 
Program. The purpose of the circular is to provide recipients of FTA 
financial assistance with updated instructions and guidance on program 
administration and the grant application process. The revisions to FTA 
Circular 9040.1F are a result of changes made to the Rural Area Formula 
Program by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-
21). FTA is updating the circular due to these changes in the law.

DATES: The final circular becomes effective November 24, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For program questions contact, Mary 
Leary, Office of Program Management, Federal Transit Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Room E44-409, Washington, DC 20590, phone: 
(202) 366-2204, fax: (202) 366-7951, or email, Mary.Leary@dot.gov. For 
legal questions, Bonnie Graves, Office of Chief Counsel, same address, 
Room E56-306, phone: (202) 366-4011, fax: (202) 366-3809, or email, 


Table of Contents

I. Overview
II. Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis
    A. Chapter I--Introduction and Background
    B. Chapter II--Program Overview
    C. Chapter III--General Program Information
    D. Chapter IV--Program Development
    E. Chapter V--Program Management and Administrative Requirements
    F. Chapter VI--State Management Plans
    G. Chapter VII--Appalachian Development Public Transportation 
Assistance Program
    H. Chapter VIII--Intercity Bus
    I. Chapter IX--Rural Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP)
    J. Chapter X--Public Transportation on Indian Reservations
    K. Chapter XI--Other Provisions
    L. Appendices

I. Overview

    FTA is updating Circular 9040.1F, ``Non-urbanized Area Formula 
Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions,'' last revised in 
2007, in order to incorporate changes in the law subsequent to passage 
of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21, Pub. 
L. 112-141). MAP-21 renamed the Section 5311 Program as the Formula 
Grants for Rural Areas Program. Generally the Section 5311 Program 
provides formula funding to States and Indian tribes for the purpose of 
supporting public transportation in areas with a population of less 
than 50,000. Funding may be used for capital and planning projects, job 
access and reverse commute projects, operating assistance and 
administration expenses.
    On September 26, 2013, FTA issued a notice of availability of the 
proposed circular in the Federal Register (78 FR 59415) and requested 
public comment on the proposed circular. The comment period closed on 
November 25, 2013. FTA received comments from 41 entities, including 
trade associations, State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, 
public transportation providers, human service agencies, and 
individuals. This notice addresses comments received and explains 
changes FTA made to the proposed circular in response to comments.
    Some comments were outside the scope of the circular and are not 
addressed in the chapter-by-chapter analysis. For example, two 
commenters asked whether mobility management would be an eligible 
expense for the Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities Program. FTA 
invites interested stakeholders to review the recently published 
proposed circular for the Section 5339 program: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-07-30/pdf/2014-17926.pdf (79 FR 44241, July 30, 
2014). Several commenters noted typographical errors, pagination errors 
and links to Web sites that were not operational. FTA has edited the 
circular to address these issues.
    The Section 5311 Program, as amended by MAP-21, provides for 
expanded eligible activities and set-asides that support rural transit 
program such as the Appalachian Development Public Transportation 
Assistance Program, the Rural Transit Assistance Program, and the 
Tribal Transit Program. The Section 5311 Program permits activities 
authorized under the repealed Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) 
program to qualify as Section 5311 eligible activities. Additionally, 
since MAP-21 changed the program's name from the Formula Grants for 
Other Than Urbanized Area Program to the Formula Grants for Rural Areas 
Program, the term ``rural'' replaces ``non-urbanized area'' or ``other 
than urbanized area'' throughout the circular.
    In addition to MAP-21 updates addressed above and outlined below, 
the circular updates the organization and wording of the previous 
circular to improve clarity and consistency with FTA's other circulars 
and to reflect other changes in the law. This document does not include 
the revised circular; however, an electronic version is available on 
FTA's Web site, at www.fta.dot.gov. Paper copies may be obtained by 
contacting FTA's Administrative Services Help Desk, at (202) 366-4865.

II. Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis

A. Chapter I--Introduction and Background

    Chapter I of the proposed circular is an introductory chapter and 
covers general information about FTA and how to contact us, briefly 
reviews the authorizing legislation for FTA programs generally, 
includes definitions applicable to the Section 5311 Program, and 
provides a brief history of the Section 5311 Program. Where applicable, 
we have used the same definitions found in statutes, rulemakings, and 
other circulars to ensure consistency.
    FTA received nine comments on this chapter, all related to 
definitions. A number of commenters suggested that FTA should be 
consistent with its definitions throughout each of its circulars. Two 
commenters specifically indicated there is a discrepancy between FTA's 
and the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) definition for ``force 
account,'' suggesting the two definitions could confuse State 
Departments of Transportation. FTA notes that FHWA's definition is 
broader than that included in the circular. However, both the FTA and 
FHWA definitions essentially refer to a recipient's use of its labor, 
equipment, materials, and supplies that are utilized under its direct 
control. Although the FTA definition is narrower than FHWA's, FTA does 
not believe its definition will cause confusion and thus it remains 
unchanged from the proposed circular.
    One commenter suggested that FTA use either ``applicant'' or 
``grant applicant'' throughout the circular. These terms were used 
interchangeably in the proposed circular, but we have struck references 
to ``grant applicant'' and used only ``applicant'' in the final 
circular. The commenter further noted that the definition for ``capital 
asset'' proposed for the Section 5311 circular should be consistent 
with the definition of ``capital asset'' in Circulars 5010.1D and 
9300.1B. In response, FTA acknowledges that the circulars referenced by 
the commenter have a slightly different definition for the term 
``capital asset,'' but we note that 5010.1D and 9300.1B will be updated 

[[Page 63665]]

reflect the definition included in this circular.
    One commenter recommended deleting ``all maintenance costs related 
to vehicles and non-vehicles'' from the proposed definition for 
``preventive maintenance.'' The commenter noted that preventive 
maintenance includes all maintenance performed to keep assets operating 
properly and avoid breakdown and deterioration that results in 
restorative maintenance. In response, FTA notes that the definition 
included in the proposed circular is consistent with the definition in 
the National Transit Database (NTD); therefore the definition is 
included in the final circular without change. The same commenter also 
suggested consistent use of the terms ``recipient'' or ``direct 
recipient'' otherwise it may cause confusion. These terms were used 
interchangeably in the proposed circular, but we have struck references 
to ``direct recipient'' in every section except in chapter III's 
discussion of Indian tribes as direct recipients. In that particular 
paragraph, we want to emphasize the difference between tribes as 
subrecipients and tribes as direct recipients.
    Lastly, commenters questioned the definitions FTA included in the 
proposed circular for the terms ``senior'' ``welfare recipient'' and 
``eligible low-income individual.'' One commenter noted that the Older 
Americans Act defines ``elderly'' as 60 years of age or older. Federal 
transit law at 49 U.S.C. 5302(18) defines ``senior'' as an individual 
who is 65 years of age or older. In addition, Federal transit law 
defines ``welfare recipient'' and ``eligible low-income individual'' at 
49 U.S.C. 5302(9), and we have included these statutory definitions in 
the circular. We note that for purposes of eligibility for reduced 
fares or specialized services, public transportation providers may 
define ``senior'' to include individuals under age 65, as a lower age 
would be inclusive of those over age 65. Since these definitions are 
statutory, the proposed definitions for the terms are included, without 
change, in the final circular. FTA has added definitions for joint 
development and transit-oriented development'' to the Definitions 
section of the Circular.

B. Chapter II--Program Overview

    In chapter II, FTA proposed updating the program goals section by 
adding three additional goals of the Section 5311 Program: (1) 
providing financial assistance to help carry out national goals related 
to mobility for all, including seniors, individuals with disabilities, 
and low-income individuals; (2) increasing availability of 
transportation options through investments in intercity bus services; 
and (3) encouraging mobility management, employment-related 
transportation alternatives, joint development practices, and transit-
oriented development.
    One commenter supported the addition of these new goals; however, 
the commenter indicated the circular lacked specifics regarding how the 
goals would be reported, the timeframe for reporting, and how the data 
would be reported. In response, FTA notes the program goals are not 
intended as performance goals and recipients will not report on these 
overall program goals. The program goals are provided as a means to 
facilitate State management and FTA oversight of the Section 5311 
Program and should be included as content for the State Management Plan 
as noted in Chapter VI of the circular.
    Another commenter noted that its ability to replace deteriorating 
vehicles in its fleet has been impacted significantly with the repeal 
of the Section 5309 discretionary bus grant program. In response, FTA 
notes that congressional action would be required in order to reinstate 
the provisions of the Section 5309 program, however, the new Section 
5339 Bus and Bus Facilities Formula Program is designed to provide a 
reliable funding stream for bus replacement. In addition, FTA notes 
that Section 5311 provides the Governor with discretion to allocate 
funding as deemed appropriate to mitigate rural transportation gaps 
within the State.

C. Chapter III--General Program Information

    FTA received a number of comments on this chapter, many related to 
the proposed changes in job access reverse commute project eligibility. 
A few commenters indicated FTA should permit the State to continue to 
fund job access and reverse commute projects that were previously 
funded with SAFETEA-LU Section 5311 funds as job access and reverse 
commute maintenance projects under the program as it is now authorized 
by MAP-21. In response to comments, we have clarified the language in 
the circular to permit SAFETEA-LU Section 5311 funded projects that 
qualified as job access and reverse commute projects to continue to be 
considered job access and reverse commute maintenance projects under 
this program. This does not apply under the Section 5307 program in 
which job access and reverse commute projects must have either been 
previously funded with Section 5316 funding to be considered job access 
and reverse commute maintenance projects or be new as of October 1, 
2012 to be considered development projects. Each State should ensure it 
has expended all of its Section 5316 JARC funds available under 
SAFETEA-LU before funding job access and reverse commute-type projects 
with Section 5311 funds authorized by MAP-21. As a reminder, there is 
no floor or ceiling for the amount of Section 5311 funds spent on job 
access and reverse commute projects under MAP-21. Further, although 
there is no statutory requirement for job access and reverse projects 
to be part of a coordinated plan, FTA continues to encourage States and 
rural communities to consider including these projects in a coordinated 
planning process consistent with the Statewide planning process.
    Several commenters indicated that FTA should revise Chapter III to 
clarify that nonprofits are eligible as subrecipients for Section 5311 
funding and eliminate any reference to projects in large urbanized 
areas. In response, FTA has revised the chapter accordingly and it now 
specifically indicates that nonprofit organizations are eligible 
subrecipients for Section 5311 funding. In addition, we have removed 
language related to large urbanized areas.
    One commenter recommended that FTA require States to factor the 
percentage of low-income individuals in the allocation of formula funds 
to rural transit districts. In response, FTA does not have the 
statutory authority to require States to do so; however, the law does 
require States to distribute funds in a fair manner. 49 U.S.C. 
    One commenter asked about the oversight responsibilities of the 
State when an Indian tribe elects to be a subrecipient of the State and 
not a direct recipient of funds. When a Tribe is a subrecipient of a 
State, the State has the same oversight responsibilities of that Tribe 
as it does for other subrecipients. However, when a tribe elects to 
receive a 5311 allocation directly from FTA, it is responsible for 
compliance with all 5311 program requirements. States would not be 
responsible for oversight for tribes that receive direct grants from 
the FTA, unless there are additional State resources or requirements 
that require State oversight.
    A few commenters requested clarification in sections 3 and 4 of 
this chapter related to operating expenses, program income, and local 
match requirements with respect to human service contracts. FTA has 
reviewed the sections and finds the language to be consistent: Both 
sections state that

[[Page 63666]]

income from such contracts may be used either to reduce the project 
cost (treated as revenue) or used as local match for Section 5311 
operating grants (treated as program income). In addition, we have 
added additional language regarding the timing of applying these funds 
to a grant. FTA will also update the Section 5307 circular to reflect 
the additional language it has included in the Section 5311 circular.
    Lastly, one commenter requested clarification regarding the 
availability of Section 5311 funding for safety certification training 
of employees directly responsible for safety oversight. Title 49 U.S.C. 
5329(e)(6) provides that Section 5311 recipients may use not more than 
0.5 percent of their formula funds to pay not more than 80 percent of 
the cost of participation in the public transportation safety 
certification training program established under subsection 49 U.S.C. 
5329(c), by an employee who is directly responsible for safety 
oversight. Further guidance regarding the safety certification training 
will be forthcoming as FTA is implementing the requirements for safety 
certification training via rulemaking.

D. Chapter IV--Program Development

    In this chapter, FTA proposed adding information regarding MAP-21's 
new performance-based planning approach and revising the program of 
projects (POPs) section. FTA received comments from four entities on 
this chapter.
    Regarding FTA's effort to further performance-based planning in 
accordance with MAP-21, one commenter asked for confirmation that State 
designation of ``Rural Transportation Planning Organizations'' (RTPO's) 
would not impact its current rural transportation planning process. FTA 
notes the language in the circular comes from 49 U.S.C. 5304(l), and 
States are not required to designate RTPO's, so such designation should 
not negatively impact the commenter's rural transportation planning 
    Two commenters expressed support for FTA's proposal to provide 
greater flexibility to States when making minor revisions to the POP. 
Commenters noted that while the POP is not a MAP-21 requirement, the 
Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) is, and therefore, FTA 
should avoid language in the circular that might lead FTA regional 
offices to require applicants to include unnecessary details with the 
POP submissions.
    In response, FTA notes there may be instances when a regional 
office may require additional information for oversight purposes that 
may not be listed in the circular. In addition, if a State includes 
projects for both rural areas and small urbanized areas in the POP, the 
regional office may need additional information in order to obligate 
the funds. Reviewing the POP at the time an applicant submits a grant 
application is necessary to allow FTA to check that the requirements of 
the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) are met 
and that the distribution of resources seems reasonable.
    Some commenters recommended that FTA amend its pre-award process to 
provide recipients with immediate approval to incur costs and seek 
Federal reimbursement for certain categories of projects. In response, 
FTA notes that currently, pre-award authority for formula funds is 
granted for a period of time consistent with the current authorization 
or two fiscal years in advance, whichever is longer. This allows 
recipients to expend anticipated resources in advance of the funds 
being obligated so long as all Federal requirements have been met. We 
believe this level of pre-award authority for Section 5311 funds is 
broader than what the commenters recommend.
    Some commenters asserted the proposed text for revising POP 
submissions in section 5b(3)(c)(1) was vague and recommended it be 
revised for clarification. In response, FTA has revised the circular to 
include a specific example to assist with interpreting this 
requirement. FTA also notes that it is in the process of developing a 
new electronic award management system and will continue to consider 
ways to streamline the grant process as a part of the new system.
    One commenter stated the 15 percent requirement for service that 
supports intercity bus has proven impracticable, and that this ``fixed 
percentage'' does not allow States and communities to determine the 
appropriate mix of public transportation services. The commenter 
suggested FTA's ``rigid definition'' of intercity bus makes services 
between significant employment, housing, recreational and retail 
centers ineligible, even though such services are critical to the 
economic vitality of rural communities. Title 49 U.S.C. 5311(f) states 
that ``at least'' 15 percent of Section 5311 funds made available to a 
State in a fiscal year will be used for the intercity bus 
transportation program. This is a floor, not a ceiling, and each State 
has discretion regarding whether to expend more than the statutory 
minimum of 15 percent for intercity bus. FTA further notes that one 
objective of the intercity bus program is to support connections 
between rural areas and the larger regional or national system of 
intercity bus service. Transportation between employment, housing, 
recreational and retail centers may be provided by fixed route, demand-
responsive, or commuter bus service. Please see the discussion of 
chapter VIII, below, for additional comments on intercity bus service.

E. Chapter V--Program Management and Administrative Requirements

    FTA proposed amendments to this chapter to clarify and update 
established requirements for recipients of Federal funds.
    In the proposed circular under section 3, Equipment Management, FTA 
added statutory language found in 49 U.S.C. 5334(h) related to the 
transfer of property. Several commenters sought clarification regarding 
the process FTA will use for reviewing the transfer of property 
acquired with Section 5311 funds and no longer needed for a public 
transportation purpose. In particular, commenters found this to be 
inconsistent with the direction given in 49 CFR 18.32, which allows 
States to follow their own procedures for use, management, and 
disposition of equipment. In response, when equipment has reached the 
end of its useful life, States may follow their own procedures. 
However, and consistent with FTA's Master Agreement, if a State 
withdraws equipment from public transportation service prior to the end 
of the equipment's useful life, FTA retains a Federal interest in that 
equipment and the State must notify FTA of the withdrawal. FTA has 
added language to this section to clarify this requirement.
    One commenter, addressing language in section 5, Procurement, asked 
if a competitive process must be used before a local governmental 
authority may pass through funds to a non-profit organization 
subrecipient. A bidding process is not required before a local 
governmental authority may pass through Section 5311 funds to a non-
profit organization provided the non-profit would otherwise be eligible 
under Section 5311 to receive funds directly from the State as a 
subrecipient, and the non-profit uses the funds to pursue its own rural 
area transit project.
    Two commenters noted that the small purchase threshold was listed 
at $150,000 in section 5.a and at $100,000 in section 5.d and asked 
which was correct. On December 26, 2013, the Office of Management and 
Budget issued final guidance 2 CFR Part 200 ``Uniform Administrative 
Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal 
Awards'' also

[[Page 63667]]

known as the ``Super Circular.'' 78 FR 78590. The guidance, which will 
take effect when the U.S. DOT issues new regulations consistent with 
the guidance and will supersede and apply in lieu of the common grant 
rule (49 CFR parts 18 and 19), will change the simplified acquisition 
threshold from $100,000 to $150,000 to match the Federal Acquisition 
Regulation. See 2 CFR 200.88. Until U.S. DOT adopts the Super Circular 
by regulation, the threshold will remain $100,000. We have edited the 
final circular accordingly.
    One commenter asserted that the Federal Funding Accountability and 
Transparency Act (FFATA) reporting deadlines cannot be met due to 
administrative processing delays. The commenter noted that in a 
specific instance, five weeks after a grant was pinned (funds 
obligated) the grant was not yet in the FFATA database. As a reminder, 
the reporting deadline is not contingent on when FTA awards the grant 
to the recipient, but when the recipient makes an award to a 
subrecipient. FTA does not have the authority to change the reporting 
deadline, and advises recipients to report as expeditiously as possible 
when there is a delay in having the grant posted to the FFATA database.

F. Chapter VI--State Management Plans

    FTA proposed two substantive changes to this chapter. One change 
required the State to document the process used to validate the source 
of in-kind match for intercity bus transportation when it is used as 
the local match. The second change aligned the circular with changes to 
49 U.S.C 5310 as amended by MAP-21, which no longer permits Section 
5310 funds to be transferred to Section 5311.
    FTA did not receive any substantive comments to this chapter. We 
have made minor technical corrections. For example, in section 1, 
General, we struck a sentence reading, ``A State may be required to 
update its SMP if section 5339 funds are transferred to an area with a 
population under 50,000.'' In its place, we have added section 5339 to 
the list of programs that States must include in their policies and 
procedures (i.e., section 5310, 5311, 5316, 5317 and 5339). We also 
made a technical correction to the charter language so it is consistent 
with the charter rule.

G. Chapter VII--Appalachian Development Public Transportation 
Assistance Program

    FTA proposed a new chapter for this circular in order to provide 
guidance for the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Program 
(ADTAP), a new program established by MAP-21. The ADTAP provides funds 
to support public transportation service in the Appalachian Region, 
which includes all of West Virginia and eligible counties in 12 other 
States: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, 
North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and 
    Two entities commented on this chapter. One commenter asked if 
ADTAP funding would be in addition to Section 5311 funds that may be 
allocated for a project within an eligible Appalachian county. Funding 
for ADTAP projects is a set-aside from available Section 5311 funds and 
a separate allocation to States in the Appalachian Region. States 
should use ADTAP formula funds for transit projects within the 
designated Appalachian region and use other Section 5311 funds to 
address needs not covered by the ADTAP allocation.
    The other commenter recommended elimination of the ADTAP funding in 
its entirety. In response, FTA notes that ADTAP was established by 
statute; therefore, FTA will implement the program in accordance with 
Section 5311(c)(2). FTA did not make any substantive changes to this 

H. Chapter VIII--Intercity Bus

    FTA proposed two revisions for intercity bus transportation 
services to reflect a change and a deadline in the law. FTA noted that 
the previous ``Intercity Pilot Match Program,'' which FTA established 
in 2007, is now codified under 49 U.S.C. 5311(f) and we requested 
comments on the proposed guidance for ``in-kind'' match to implement 
the statute. Second, FTA deleted the section on the over-the-road bus 
accessibility incentive program, as MAP-21 repealed the program, and we 
updated the ADA regulation section of this chapter to reflect the 
requirement in 49 CFR 37.185 that as of October 29, 2012, over-the-road 
buses (OTRB) that provide fixed route service must be accessible to and 
usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use 
    Nearly half of the entities commenting on the circular commented on 
this chapter. The majority of commenters disagreed with FTA's proposal 
regarding the determination for in-kind match for intercity bus 
services. The commenters asserted that FTA's proposal to limit eligible 
costs to capital costs was inconsistent with 49 U.S.C. 5311(g)(3)(D). 
In response, FTA has revised section 5 of this chapter to reflect that 
FTA will allow the eligible net cost to be calculated using one of two 
options. FTA funds may only be used to fund the net costs of a project, 
so in either option, fare revenue must be subtracted from the total 
cost to determine the eligible amount of in-kind match. In the final 
circular, FTA maintains the option of using capital cost of contracting 
ratios for simplicity in calculating the net costs of the project. In 
addition, the final circular further notes that on a case-by-case 
basis, if a private operator has excess funds of both unsubsidized 
capital and operating costs for providing intercity services, FTA may 
allow these funds to count toward the in-kind match. The private 
provider must demonstrate that some of the operating costs of the 
service are being cross-subsidized by profits elsewhere on its system, 
and not fully covered by farebox revenue. The appropriate FTA regional 
office will be available to assist a recipient in determining in-kind 
match determinations and the documentation required to support a 
private operator's cost basis.
    One commenter suggested that FTA change the term ``intercity bus 
service'' to ``intercity transportation service'' in order to not 
``favor connections to one mode over connections to others.'' By 
statute, Section 5311(f) addresses the eligibility of ``intercity bus 
transportation,'' so FTA declines to make that change. Another 
commenter asserted that because the guidance limits the definition of 
``intercity bus service'' to service ``that makes meaningful 
connections with scheduled intercity bus service to more distant 
points, if such service is available,'' that this has been interpreted 
as prohibiting the use of these funds for intercity bus service that 
connects to the national aviation or intercity passenger rail networks.
    In response, FTA notes that the guidance in this chapter does not 
prohibit intercity bus feeder service from providing access to 
intercity connections with rail or air service. However, FTA believes 
that feeder service linkage to the national rail network that is not 
linked to small public transportation operators (e.g., through an 
intermodal terminal/stop) does not comply with 49 U.S.C. 5311(f). To 
clarify the eligibility of connections with rail service when part of 
an intermodal terminal, we have amended section 8, Eligible Activities, 
to provide that private intercity bus operators may participate in 
improvements to existing intercity terminal facilities for rural 
passengers, as well as modifications to transit facilities to 
facilitate shared use

[[Page 63668]]

by intercity bus, intercity rail, and rural transit operators.
    One commenter was encouraged by the definition of ``feeder 
service'' but recommended that FTA require or provide incentives to 
States for Section 5311 intercity bus service projects that directly 
involve rural districts to ensure better and more meaningful access to 
intercity bus service. In response, FTA notes that States have 
flexibility to administer the program to meet the needs of their rural 
regions and districts, so declines to make the suggested change.
    Lastly, one commenter read Section 10, ADA Regulations, to mean 
that any and all Section 5311(f) over-the-road intercity bus 
recipients, subrecipients and contractors must use vehicles that are 
fully wheelchair accessible. While that is true of large operators that 
are Class I motor carriers providing fixed-route service, the ADA 
regulations allow small operators greater flexibility. Small operators 
can either ensure that vehicles are readily accessible to and usable by 
individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use 
wheelchairs, or ensure that equivalent service is provided to 
individuals with disabilities. We have amended this section 

I. Chapter IX--Rural Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP)

    FTA did not propose any substantive changes for this chapter and 
did not receive any comments. The RTAP continues to provide funding to 
assist in the design and implementation of training and technical 
assistance projects, research, and other support services. We did not 
make any substantive changes to this chapter.

J. Chapter X--Public Transportation on Indian Reservations

    FTA proposed a new chapter in the circular to address public 
transportation on Indian reservations, or the ``Tribal Transit 
Program.'' Section 5311(c) authorizes $5 million annually for this 
program, distributed on a competitive basis; and $25 million annually 
for this program, apportioned by a statutory formula found in Section 
5311(j). The formula apportions funds on the basis of vehicle revenue 
miles and the number of low-income individuals residing on tribal 
lands. FTA received comments from six entities regarding this chapter. 
Two commenters expressed appreciation for the new formula funding, 
while others had concerns about the basis for determining how much 
assistance Tribes receive, and expressed concern that they no longer 
receive enough Tribal Transit funding to operate their existing 
    FTA understands that the transition from a $15 million 
discretionary program to a mixed formula and discretionary program has 
been challenging for some Tribes, despite the fact that the total 
funding level doubled. Generally, the comments FTA received on the 
Section 5311 circular were addressed as part of the tribal consultation 
process FTA initiated last year. On November 9, 2012, FTA published a 
notice in the Federal Register (77 FR 67439) in order to (1) introduce 
FTA's consultation process and schedule for implementing changes to the 
Tribal Transit Program due to MAP-21; (2) describe and seek comment on 
the methodology for the formula allocation and the assumptions made 
regarding which Tribes are eligible for the formula program; (3) seek 
comment on the terms and conditions for the formula and discretionary 
components of the program; and (4) seek comment on how the 
discretionary program resources should be allocated. As part of the 
tribal consultation process, FTA conducted two outreach meetings in 
November and December of 2012. After considering comments, FTA 
published a subsequent notice in the Federal Register (78 FR 27284, May 
9, 2013) in which it responded to issues presented as a result of the 
consultation process. That notice also announced the funding levels and 
framework for the Tribal Transit Program, as well as a notice of 
funding availability (NOFA) for FY 13 funds. FTA encourages interested 
stakeholders to review the two Federal Register notices, available on 
FTA's Web site (http://www.fta.dot.gov/legislation_law/federal_register_notices.php) if they have additional concerns about 
the funding or framework of this program. FTA has not made any 
substantive edits to this chapter.

K. Chapter XI--Other Provisions

    This chapter describes cross-cutting Federal requirements that 
apply to the Section 5311 Program. FTA did not receive any substantive 
comments on this chapter and did not make any substantive edits.

L. Appendices

    One commenter requested FTA include additional information related 
to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5333(b) (labor protections) in 
Appendix A. It is not clear to us what additional information would be 
helpful, and we recommend that interested stakeholders contact their 
FTA regional office if they have questions regarding the role of the 
Department of Labor in processing Section 5311 grants.
    Another commenter recommended that Appendix B include a POP section 
for JARC. In response, we have added language indicating that JARC 
projects must be coded under 646-00 SCOPE in the grant and reserved 
using FPC 03.
    Lastly, one commenter asked for clarification regarding section 3 
of Appendix F and the methodology for excess or insufficient in-kind 
match determinations for intercity bus. FTA provided additional 
clarification in revisions to Chapter VIII, Intercity Bus and 
eliminated Appendix F as the information was redundant with the 
information contained in the chapter.

Therese W. McMillan,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-25309 Filed 10-23-14; 8:45 am]

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