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FY16 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission Grant Programs; 5339(b) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program and 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses

FY16 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission Grant Programs; 5339(b) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program and 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program

Matthew J. Welbes
Federal Transit Administration
29 March 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 60 (Tuesday, March 29, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17553-17561]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07027]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


FY16 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Grants for Buses and Bus 
Facilities and Low or No Emission Grant Programs; 5339(b) Grants for 
Buses and Bus Facilities Program and 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
availability of approximately $211 million of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 
funds for the Section 5339(b) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities 
Competitive Grant Program (Bus Program) and approximately $55 million 
for 5339(c) Low or No Emission Bus Competitive Grant Program (Low-No 
Program). Funds awarded for the Bus Program will finance capital 
projects to replace, rehabilitate, purchase or lease buses and related 
equipment and to rehabilitate, purchase, construct or lease bus-related 
facilities, including programs of bus and bus-related projects for 
subrecipients that are public agencies, private companies engaged in 
public transportation, or private non-profit organizations. Funds 
awarded for the Low-No Program will finance the purchase or lease of 
low or no emission vehicles that use advanced technologies, including 
related equipment or facilities, for transit revenue operations. 
Projects may include costs incidental to the acquisition of buses or to 
the construction of facilities, such as the costs of related workforce 
development and training activities, and project development. FTA may 
award additional funding that is made available to the program prior to 
the announcement of project selections.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by May 13, 2016. Prospective applicants 
should initiate the process by registering on the GRANTS.GOV Web site 
promptly to ensure completion of the application process before the 
submission deadline. Instructions for applying can be found on FTA's 
Web site at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ``FIND'' 
module of GRANTS.GOV. Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For the Bus Program, contact Sam 
Snead, FTA Office of Program Management, 202-366-1089, or samuel.snead@

[[Page 17554]]

dot.gov. For the Low-No Program, contact Tara Clark, same office, 202-
366-2623, or tara.clark@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table Of Contents

A. Program Description
    1. 5339(b) Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Program
    2. 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program
B. Federal Award Information
    1. 5339(b) Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Program
    2. 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program
C. Eligibility Information
    1. 5339(b) Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Program
    2. 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program
D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review
    1. 5339(b) Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Program
    2. 5339(c) Low or No Emission Program
F. Federal Award Administration
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
H. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information

A. Program Description

1. The Bus Program

    Section 5339(b) of Title 49, United States Code, as amended by 
Section 3017 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, Pub. 
L. 114-94, authorizes FTA to award Bus Program grants through a 
competitive process, as described in this notice. The program provides 
funds to State and local governmental authorities for capital projects 
to replace, rehabilitate, purchase or lease buses and related equipment 
and to rehabilitate, purchase, construct or lease bus-related 
facilities. Under this authority, FTA also may award grants to eligible 
recipients for projects to be undertaken by subrecipients that are 
public agencies, private companies engaged in public transportation, or 
private non-profit organizations. The purpose of the Bus Program is to 
improve the condition of the nation's public transportation bus fleets, 
expand transportation access to employment, educational, and healthcare 
facilities, and to improve mobility options in rural and urban areas 
throughout the country. In accordance with the statutory requirement 
that FTA must ``consider the age and condition of buses, bus fleets, 
related equipment, and bus-related facilities'', FTA will prioritize 
projects that demonstrate how they will address significant repair and 
maintenance needs, improve the safety of transit systems, deploy 
connective projects that include advanced technologies to connect bus 
systems with other networks, and support the creation of ladders of 
opportunity.

2. The Low or No Emission Bus (Low-No) Program

    Section 5339(c) of Title 49, United States Code, as established by 
Section 3017 of the FAST Act, authorizes FTA to award grants for low or 
no emission buses through a competitive process, as described in this 
notice. The Low or No Emission Bus Program (Low-No Program) provides 
funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or 
lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including 
acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting 
facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities. 
FTA recognizes that a significant transformation is occurring in the 
transit bus industry, with the increasing availability of low and zero 
emission bus vehicles for transit revenue operations. The adoption of 
these technologically advanced vehicles will enable the country's 
transportation system to move toward a cleaner and more energy-
efficient future, as described in the U.S. Department of 
Transportation's recent report, Beyond Traffic 2045. Accordingly, the 
purpose of the Low-No Program is to support the transition of the 
nation's transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy 
efficient transit vehicle technologies, thereby reducing local air 
pollution and direct carbon emissions, and to support the deployment of 
technologically advanced U.S.-made transit buses that have been largely 
proven in testing and demonstrations, but are not yet widely deployed 
in transit fleets.

B. Federal Award Information

1. 5339(b) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program

    The FAST Act amended 49 U.S.C. 5339 to provide competitive grants 
for eligible projects under the Bus Program and has authorized $213 
million in FY 2016 to carry out the Bus Program. A one half of one 
percent take down authorized for oversight reduces this amount to 
approximately $211 million. A minimum of 10 percent of the amount 
awarded under the Bus Program will be awarded to States for projects 
located in rural areas.

2. 5339(c) Low or No Emission Competitive Program

    The FAST Act established 49 U.S.C. 5339(c) to provide competitive 
grants for eligible projects under the Low-No Program and has 
authorized $55 million in FY 2016 to carry out the Low-No Program.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Bus Program Eligibility

i. Eligible Applicants
    Eligible applicants include direct recipients of FTA grants under 
the Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula program, States, and Indian 
Tribes. Except for projects proposed by Indian Tribes, proposals for 
projects in rural (non-urbanized) areas must be submitted as part of a 
consolidated State proposal. States and other eligible applicants may 
also submit consolidated proposals for projects in urbanized areas. 
Proposals may contain projects to be implemented by the recipient or 
its subrecipients. Eligible subrecipients include public agencies, 
private nonprofit organizations, and private providers engaged in 
public transportation. If a single project proposal involves multiple 
public transportation providers, such as when an agency acquires 
vehicles that will be operated by another agency, the proposal must 
include a detailed statement regarding the role of each public 
transportation provider in the implementation of the project.
ii. Cost Sharing or Matching
    The maximum Federal share for projects selected under the Bus 
Program is 80 percent of the net project cost, unless noted below by 
one of the exceptions.
    i. The Federal share is 85 percent of the net project cost of 
acquiring vehicles (including clean-fuel or alternative fuel vehicles) 
that are compliant with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and/or the Americans 
with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
    ii. The Federal share is 90 percent of the net project cost of 
acquiring, installing or constructing vehicle-related equipment or 
facilities (including clean fuel or alternative-fuel vehicle-related 
equipment or facilities) that are required by the Americans with 
Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, or that are necessary to comply with or 
maintaining compliance with the Clean Air Act. The award recipient must 
itemize the cost of specific, discrete, vehicle-related equipment 
associated with compliance with ADA or CAA to be eligible for the 
maximum 90 percent Federal share for these costs.
    Eligible sources of local match include the following: Cash from 
non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public 
transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising 
and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a 
State or local

[[Page 17555]]

social service agency or private social service organization; revenues 
generated from value capture financing mechanisms; or funds from an 
undistributed cash surplus; replacement or depreciation cash fund or 
reserve; or new capital. In addition, transportation development 
credits or documentation of in-kind match may substitute for local 
match if identified in the application.
iii. Eligible Projects
    Eligible projects are capital projects to replace, rehabilitate 
purchase, or lease buses, vans, and related equipment (including 
intelligent technology and software), and capital projects to 
rehabilitate, purchase, construct, or lease bus-related facilities. 
Eligible projects under the Bus Program also include all projects 
otherwise eligible under the Low-No Program.
    FTA is particularly interested in implementing the provisions of 
the FAST Act that permit applicants to use up to 0.5 percent of the FTA 
funds for workforce development activities eligible under 49 U.S.C. 
5314 and an additional 0.5 percent for costs associated with training 
at the National Transit Institute. Applicants should identify the 
proposed use of funds for these activities in the project proposal and 
identify them separately in the project budget.

2. Low-No Program Eligibility

i. Eligible Applicants
    Eligible applicants include direct recipients of FTA grants under 
the Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula program, States, and Indian 
Tribes. Except for projects proposed by Indian Tribes, proposals for 
funding eligible projects in rural (non-urbanized) areas must be 
submitted as part of a consolidated State proposal. States and other 
eligible applicants also may submit consolidated proposals for projects 
in urbanized areas. Proposals may contain projects to be implemented by 
the recipient or its subrecipients. Eligible subrecipients include 
direct recipients of Section 5307 grants and local government 
authorities that operate fixed route transit service. If a single 
project proposal involves multiple public transportation providers, 
such as when an agency acquires vehicles that will be operated by 
another agency, the proposal must include a detailed statement 
regarding the role of each public transportation provider in the 
implementation of the project.
    An eligible recipient may submit an application in partnership with 
other entities that intend to participate in the implementation of the 
project, including, but not limited to, specific vehicle manufacturers, 
equipment vendors, owners or operators of related facilities, or 
project consultants. If an application that involves such a partnership 
is selected for funding, the competitive selection process will be 
deemed to satisfy the requirement for a competitive procurement under 
49 U.S.C. 5325(a) for the named entities. Applicants are advised that 
any changes to the proposed partnership will require FTA advance 
approval, would need to be consistent with the scope of the approved 
project, and may necessitate a competitive procurement.
    Under the 5339(c) Low-No Program, as amended by the FAST Act, there 
no longer is a requirement that an eligible project or recipient be 
located in an area designated as an air quality non-attainment or 
maintenance area.
ii. Cost Sharing or Matching
    All eligible expenses under the Low-No Program are attributable to 
compliance with the Clean Air Act. Therefore under the provisions of 49 
U.S.C. 5323(i) the maximum Federal participation in the costs of 
leasing or acquiring a transit bus financed under the Low-No Program is 
85 percent of the total transit bus cost. The proposer may seek a lower 
Federal contribution. Further, the maximum Federal participation in the 
cost of leasing or acquiring low or no emission bus-related equipment 
and facilities under the Low-No Program, such as recharging or 
refueling facilities, is 90 percent of the net project cost of the 
equipment or facilities that are attributable to compliance with the 
Clean Air Act.
    Eligible sources of local match include the following: Cash from 
non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public 
transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising 
and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a 
State or local social service agency or private social service 
organization; revenues generated from value capture financing 
mechanisms; or funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or 
depreciation cash fund or reserve; new capital; or in-kind 
contributions. In addition, transportation development credits or 
documentation of in-kind match may substitute for local match if 
identified in the application.
iii. Eligible Projects
    Eligible projects are projects or programs of projects for 
purchasing or leasing low or no emission buses, acquiring low or no 
emission buses with a leased power source, constructing or leasing 
facilities and related equipment (including intelligent technology and 
software), for low or no emission buses, constructing new public 
transportation facilities to accommodate low or no emission buses, or 
rehabilitating or improving existing public transportation facilities 
to accommodate low or no emission buses. All proposed projects must be 
part of the intended recipient's long-term integrated fleet management 
plan.
    Under the Low-No Program, a low or no-emission bus is defined as a 
passenger vehicle used to provide public transportation that 
significantly reduces energy consumption, air pollution, or direct 
carbon emissions, when compared to a standard vehicle. This includes 
zero-emission transit buses, which are defined as buses that produce no 
direct carbon emissions and no particulate matter emissions under any 
and all possible operational modes and conditions. Examples of zero 
emission bus technologies include, but are not limited to hydrogen 
fuel-cell buses and battery-electric buses. All transit bus models 
procured with funds awarded under the Low-No Program must complete FTA 
bus testing for production transit buses pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5318. 
The development or deployment of prototype vehicles is not eligible for 
funding under the Low-No program.
    FTA is particularly interested in implementing the provisions of 
the FAST Act that permit applicants to use up to 0.5 percent of the FTA 
funds for workforce development activities eligible under 49 U.S.C. 
5314 and an additional 0.5 percent for costs associated with training 
at the National Transit Institute. Applicants should identify the 
proposed use of funds for these activities in the project proposal and 
identify them separately in the project budget.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address

    Applications must be submitted to Grants.gov. General information 
for submitting applications through Grants.gov can be found at 
www.fta.dot.gov/howtoapply along with specific instructions for the 
forms and attachments required for submission. Failure to submit the 
information as requested can delay review of the application.
    The FTA urges proposers to submit applications at least 72 hours 
prior to the due date to allow time to receive the

[[Page 17556]]

validation messages and to correct any problems that may have caused a 
rejection notification. The FTA will not accept submissions after the 
stated deadline. GRANTS.GOV scheduled maintenance and outage times are 
announced on the GRANTS.GOV Web site. Deadlines will not be extended 
due to scheduled Web site maintenance.
    Proposers are encouraged to begin the process of registration on 
the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to 
complete before an application can be submitted. Registered proposers 
may still be required to take steps to keep their registration up to 
date before submissions can be made successfully: (1) Registration in 
the System for Award Management (SAM) is renewed annually; and, (2) 
persons making submissions on behalf of the Authorized Organization 
Representative (AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to 
make submissions.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive three email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV, (2) confirmation 
of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV, and (3) confirmation of 
successful validation by FTA. If confirmations of successful validation 
are not received or a notice of failed validation or incomplete 
materials is received, the applicant must address the reason for the 
failed validation, as described in the email notice, and resubmit 
before the submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any 
reason, include all original attachments regardless of which 
attachments were updated and check the box on the supplemental form 
indicating this is a resubmission.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    A complete proposal submission consists of at least two forms: The 
SF424 Mandatory Form and the relevant supplemental form for either the 
Bus Program or the Low-No Program. The application must include 
responses to all sections of the SF424 Mandatory Form and the relevant 
Supplemental Form, unless indicated as optional. The information on the 
supplemental form will be used to determine applicant and project 
eligibility for the program, and to evaluate the proposal against the 
selection criteria described in part E of this notice.
    A separate supplemental form exists for the Bus Program and the 
Low-No program. Projects that use the inappropriate form will not 
contain the information necessary to determine eligibility of the 
project and will not be evaluated. Applicants may submit multiple 
proposals for one or both competitions in a single application, but 
must complete a separate ``project detail'' section of the appropriate 
supplemental form for each project.
    The supplemental form must be placed in the attachments section of 
the SF424 Mandatory Form. Proposers must use the relevant supplemental 
form(s) designated for the Bus Program and/or the Low-No Program and 
attach it/them to the submission in GRANTS.GOV to successfully complete 
the application process. A submission may include multiple supplemental 
forms, and a single supplemental form may contain multiple individual 
project proposals. All project proposals will be evaluated separately, 
regardless of whether they are submitted as a single submission.
    An applicant may submit additional supporting documentation for 
each project proposal as attachments. Any supporting documentation must 
be described and referenced by file name in the appropriate response 
section of the supplemental form, or it may not be reviewed.
    Information such as proposer name, Federal amount requested, local 
match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be requested in 
varying degrees of detail on both the SF424 form and Supplemental Form. 
Proposers must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the forms. 
The Supplemental Form template supports pasting copied text from other 
documents; applicants should verify that pasted text is fully captured 
on the Supplemental Form and has not been truncated by the character 
limits built into the form. Proposers should use both the ``Check 
Package for Errors'' and the ``Validate Form'' validation buttons on 
both forms to check all required fields on the forms, and ensure that 
the federal and local amounts specified are consistent.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

    All applicants must provide a unique entity identifier provided by 
the System for Award Management (SAM). Registration in SAM may take as 
little as 3-5 business days, but since there could be unexpected steps 
or delays (for example, if you need to obtain an Employer 
Identification Number), FTA recommends allowing ample time, up to 
several weeks, for completion of all steps. For additional information 
on obtaining a unique entity identifier, please visit www.sam.gov. 
Further instructions on registration will be provided by FTA through an 
introductory applicant training session. Dates and times for the 
training session will be posted on FTA's Web site at www.fta.dot.gov/busprogram.

4. Submission Dates and Times

5.

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV by May 13, 2016. Mail and fax submissions will not be 
accepted.

6. Funding Restrictions

    Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a Grant 
Agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 
projects through a notification in the Federal Register, or unless FTA 
has issued a ``Letter of No Prejudice'' for the project before the 
expenses are incurred.

7. Other Submission Requirements

    Applicants are encouraged to consider scaling projects in 
increments of 1 or 2 transit buses, in case insufficient funding is 
available to fund a project at the full requested amount. If an 
applicant indicates that a project is scalable, the applicant must 
provide an appropriate minimum funding amount that will fund an 
eligible project that achieves the objectives of the program and meets 
all relevant program requirements. The applicant must provide a clear 
explanation of how the project budget would be affected by a reduced 
award. Additionally, funding requests for workforce development 
activities must be addressed separately in the budget section of the 
application, and such activities must be attributable to the project 
being applied for.

E. Application Review

1. Evaluation Criteria for the Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive 
Program

    FTA will evaluate project proposals for the Bus Program based on 
the criteria described in this notice. Projects will be evaluated 
primarily on the responses provided in the supplemental form. 
Additional information may be provided to support the responses 
provided, however, any additional documentation must be directly 
referenced on the supplemental form, including the file name where the 
additional information can be found.
1. Demonstration of Need
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will address 
an unmet need for capital investment in bus vehicles and/or supporting 
facilities,

[[Page 17557]]

enhance the safety of the transit system for transit vehicle operators, 
riders, and the general public, or improve connectivity of bus systems 
with other networks through the use of deployment-ready information 
technologies. For example, an applicant may demonstrate a substantial 
backlog of deferred capital investment, insufficient size or capacity 
of maintenance facilities, excessive reliance on vehicles that are 
beyond their intended service life, a vehicle fleet that is 
insufficient to meet current ridership demands, or passenger facilities 
that are insufficient for their current use. For safety, an applicant 
may demonstrate safety concerns with vehicles, equipment, or facilities 
that are beyond their intended useful life, or that are no longer 
appropriate for use due to safety concerns. To improve connectivity, 
bus systems may deploy Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) 
technologies or software that link buses with other transportation 
networks. Applicants should also describe how the proposed project will 
improve the operation of the transit system and whether the project 
represents a one-time or periodic need that cannot reasonably be funded 
from FTA program formula allocations or State and/or local resources.
    Applicants should provide the following information, which FTA will 
use to assess the need for capital investment underlying the proposed 
project:
    a. For bus projects (replacement, rehabilitation or expansion): The 
age and condition of the asset(s) to be replaced or rehabilitated by 
the proposed project, relative to their intended useful life. 
Consistency with the proposer's bus fleet management plan. Condition 
and performance of the asset to be replaced by the proposed project, as 
ascertained through field inspections or otherwise, if available. For 
fleet expansion requests, the degree to which the proposed project will 
have a significant impact on service delivery. For both the Bus Program 
and Low-No Program, the proposal must address whether the project 
conforms to FTA's spare ratio guidelines.
    b. For bus facility and equipment projects (replacement and/or 
expansion): The age of the asset to be rehabilitated or replaced 
relative to its useful life. The degree to which the proposed project 
will enable the agency to improve the maintenance and condition of the 
agency's fleet and/or other related transit assets. For expansion 
requests, the degree to which the proposed project addresses a current 
capacity constraint that is limiting the ability of the agency to 
provide an adequate level of service relative to current ridership 
demands or the degree the equipment will improve connectivity of bus 
systems to other networks and infrastructure.
2. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will support 
the creation of ladders of opportunity, which are defined for this 
competition as public transportation services that enable individuals 
to achieve increased economic security by supporting the following five 
Ladders of Opportunity Principles: (1) Enhanced access to work, (2) 
more transportation choices, (3) support for existing communities, (4) 
enhanced economic opportunities, and (5) support for partnerships 
between public agencies, non-profit organizations and the private 
sector.
    Enhanced access to work: FTA will evaluate whether the project will 
improve access for Americans with transportation disadvantages through 
reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational 
opportunities, services and other basic needs.
    More Transportation Choices: FTA will evaluate whether the project 
will significantly enhance mobility through the creation of more 
convenient transportation options for travelers.
    Support for Existing Communities: FTA will evaluate whether the 
project will increase community revitalization, improve the efficiency 
of public works investments or safeguard rural communities.
    Enhanced Economic Opportunities: FTA will evaluate whether the 
project improves economic opportunities by linking capital investments 
with local workforce development opportunities and initiatives, 
including connections to employment and educational opportunities. FTA 
is particularly interested in projects that propose to utilize the 
eligibility of 0.5 percent of the proposed Federal funding for 
workforce development and/or 0.5 percent for training at the National 
Transit Institute. Please note that funding requests for workforce 
development activities must be addressed separately in the budget 
section of the application, and such activities must be attributable to 
the project being applied for.
    Support for partnerships between public agencies, non-profit 
organizations and the private sector: FTA will evaluate the extent to 
which the proposed project will support strong partnerships between 
State or local public agencies, local non-profit organizations, and the 
private sector to improve mobility for individuals with limited access 
to economic opportunities. This includes the extent the applicant has 
or will bring local workforce development, training, education, 
veterans, transportation and planning stakeholders together with 
representation of key customer groups (people with low-incomes, people 
with disabilities, youths, veterans, elderly populations, etc.) to 
formulate a plan to create ladders of opportunity in an area.
3. Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project is consistent 
with local and regional long-range planning documents and local 
government priorities. This will involve assessing whether the project 
is consistent with the transit priorities identified in the long range 
plan; and/or contingency/illustrative projects included in that plan; 
or the locally developed human services public transportation 
coordinated plan. Applicants are not required to submit copies of such 
plans, but should describe how the project will support regional goals 
and may submit support letters from local and regional planning 
organizations attesting to the consistency of the proposed project with 
these plans.
    Evidence of additional local or regional prioritization may include 
letters of support for the project from local government officials, 
public agencies, and non-profit or private sector partners.
4. Local Financial Commitment
    Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and 
describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or 
will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. FTA 
will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of 
local financial commitment to the project. In addition, an applicant 
may propose a local cost share that is greater than the minimum 
requirement or provide documentation of previous local investments in 
the project, which cannot be used to satisfy local matching 
requirements, as evidence of local financial commitment.
5. Project Implementation Strategy
    Projects will be evaluated based on the extent to which the project 
is ready to implement within a reasonable period of time. Among other 
factors, FTA will assess whether the project qualifies for a 
Categorical Exclusion (CE), or whether the required environmental work 
has been initiated

[[Page 17558]]

or completed for projects requiring an Environmental Assessment (EA) or 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended.
    Applicants should address whether project implementation plans are 
complete, including initial design of facilities projects. For vehicle 
acquisitions, the applicant should explain the status and timeline of 
the intended procurement strategy.
    Applicants must also provide the timeframe under which the 
Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and/or Statewide 
Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) can be amended to include the 
proposed project. This should be accompanied by evidence of MPO and/or 
State endorsement. In addition, the proposal should state whether grant 
funds can be obligated within 12 months from time of award, if 
selected. For projects that will require formal coordination, approvals 
or permits from other agencies or project partners, the applicant must 
demonstrate previous coordination with these organizations and their 
support for the project, such as through letters of support.
6. Technical, Legal, and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal and 
financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review relevant 
oversight assessments and records to determine whether there are any 
outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues with the applicant 
that would affect the outcome of the proposed project.
    FTA will also review the proposed source of local match. Applicants 
should submit evidence of the availability of such funds for the 
project, for example by including a board resolution, letter of support 
from the State, or other documentation of the source of local funds.
Review and Selection Process
    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the 
published evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation 
committee and other FTA staff may request additional information from 
applicants, if necessary. Based on the findings of the technical 
evaluation committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final 
selection of projects for program funding. FTA may consider geographic 
diversity, diversity in the size of the transit systems receiving 
funding, and/or the applicant's receipt of other competitive awards in 
determining the allocation of program funds. Not less than 10 percent 
of the Bus and Bus Facility Program funds will be distributed to 
projects in rural areas. In addition, not more than 10 percent of the 
funds may be awarded to a single grantee.

2. Selection Criteria for the Low or No Emission Bus Program

    FTA will evaluate project proposals for the Low-No Program based on 
the criteria described in this notice. Projects will be evaluated 
primarily on the responses provided in the supplemental form. 
Additional information may be provided to support the responses 
provided; however, any additional documentation must be directly 
referenced on the supplemental form, including the file name where the 
additional information can be found.
i. Demonstration of Need
    Since the purpose of this program is to fund bus vehicles and 
facilities, applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will 
address an unmet need for capital investment in bus vehicles and/or 
supporting facilities. For example, an applicant may demonstrate a 
substantial backlog of deferred capital investment, insufficient size 
or capacity of maintenance facilities for low or no emission vehicles, 
excessive reliance on vehicles that are beyond their intended service 
life, or a vehicle fleet size that is insufficient to meet current 
ridership demands.
    Applicants should also provide the following information, which FTA 
will use to assess the need for capital investment underlying the 
proposed project:
    a. For low or no emission bus projects (replacement, rehabilitation 
or expansion): The age and condition of the vehicles or facilities to 
be replaced or rehabilitated by the proposed project, relative to their 
intended useful life. The consistency of the proposed project with the 
proposer's bus fleet management plan. The condition and performance of 
the vehicles to be replaced by the proposed project. For fleet 
expansion requests, the degree to which the proposed project will have 
a significant impact on service delivery. For both the Bus Program and 
Low-No Program, the proposal must address whether the project conforms 
to FTA's spare ratio guidelines. Low or no emission vehicles funded 
under this program are not exempted from FTA's standard spare ratio 
requirements which apply to and are calculated on the agency's entire 
fleet.
    b. For bus facility and equipment projects (replacement and/or 
expansion): The age of the asset to be rehabilitated or replaced 
relative to its useful life. The degree to which the proposed project 
will enable the agency to improve the maintenance or operation of the 
agency's existing low or no emission vehicles, and/or other related 
transit assets.
ii. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will support 
the successful deployment of vehicles with advanced propulsion 
technologies in regular transit operations. In particular, the 
applicant must demonstrate how the proposed project will support the 
following Low-No Program objectives: (1) Reduce Direct Carbon 
Emissions; (2) Reduce Particulate Emissions; (3) Support Deployment of 
Advanced Propulsion Technologies; (4) Demonstrate Successful Revenue 
Operation of New Technologies.
    Reduce Direct Carbon Emissions: Applicants should demonstrate how 
the proposed vehicles or facility will reduce emissions of greenhouse 
gases from transit vehicle operations. FTA will evaluate the rate of 
direct carbon emissions by the proposed vehicles or vehicles to be 
supported by the proposed facility, the number of vehicles that will be 
in operation as a result of the proposed project, and the emissions 
from the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to the spare fleet as 
a result of the proposed project.
    Reduce Particulate Emissions: Applicants should demonstrate how the 
proposed vehicles or facility will reduce the emission of particulates 
that create local air pollution, which leads to local environmental 
health concerns, smog, and unhealthy ozone concentrations. FTA will 
evaluate the rate of particulate emissions by the proposed vehicles or 
vehicles to be supported by the proposed facility, the number of 
vehicles that will be in operation as a result of the proposed project, 
and the emissions from the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to 
the spare fleet as a result of the proposed project.
    Support Deployment of Advanced Propulsion Technologies: As 
described in the U.S. Department of Transportation's ``Beyond Traffic 
2045'', the transportation sector will need to significantly reduce its 
emissions of greenhouse gases. Accordingly, applicants should describe 
how the proposed project will introduce new vehicle technologies that 
reduce emissions and increase energy

[[Page 17559]]

efficiency into transit revenue operations. FTA will consider the 
prevalence of the proposed propulsion technology in the nation's 
transit fleet, the degree to which the proposed technology reduces 
emissions as compared to more common vehicle propulsion technologies, 
and the capability of the proposed vehicle type to perform to an 
adequate level of performance in standard revenue operations, as 
evidenced by successful revenue service in similar operating 
environments.
    Demonstrate Successful Revenue Operation of New Technologies: 
Applicants should describe how the proposed project will support the 
successful operation of new technologies in revenue service. FTA will 
evaluate the current or planned ability of the applicant to 
successfully operate and maintain the proposed vehicles or vehicles to 
be supported by the proposed project. As the introduction of new 
technology may impact the skills needed by the applicant's workforce, 
FTA is particularly interested in projects that propose to utilize the 
eligibility of 0.5 percent of the proposed Federal funding for 
workforce development and/or 0.5 percent for training at the National 
Transit Institute. Please note that funding requests for workforce 
development activities must be addressed separately in the budget 
section of the application, and such activities must be attributable to 
the project being applied for. Applicants should also address the 
appropriateness of the intended vehicles for the type of service 
proposed, in particular when considering vehicle operating range, 
charging or fueling requirements, or terrain. FTA will evaluate the 
consistency of the proposed project with the applicant's long-term 
fleet management plan, as well as the applicant's previous experience 
with the relevant low or no emissions vehicle technologies.
iii. Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project is consistent 
with local and regional long range planning documents and local 
government priorities. This will involve assessing whether the project 
is consistent with the transit priorities identified in the long range 
plan; and/or contingency/illustrative projects included in that plan; 
or the locally-developed human services public transportation 
coordinated plan. Applicants are not required to submit copies of such 
plans, but should describe how the project will support regional goals 
and may submit support letters from local and regional planning 
organizations attesting to the consistency of the proposed project with 
these plans.
    Evidence of additional local or regional prioritization may include 
letters of support for the project from local government officials, 
public agencies, and non-profit or private sector partners.
iv. Local Financial Commitment
    Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and 
describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or 
will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. FTA 
will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of 
local financial commitment to the project. In addition, an applicant 
may propose a local cost share that is greater than the minimum 
requirement or provide documentation of previous local investments in 
the project, which cannot be used to satisfy local matching 
requirements, as evidence of local financial commitment. FTA will also 
note if an applicant proposes to use grant funds only for the 
incremental cost of new technologies over the cost of replacing 
vehicles with standard propulsion technologies.
v. Project Implementation Strategy
    Projects will be evaluated based on the extent to which the project 
is ready to implement within a reasonable period of time. Among other 
factors, FTA will assess whether the project qualifies for a 
Categorical Exclusion (CE), or whether the required environmental work 
has been initiated or completed for projects requiring an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended.
    Applicants must provide information regarding their project 
implementation plans, including whether initial design of facilities 
projects has been completed. For vehicle acquisitions, the applicant 
must explain the status and timeline of the intended procurement 
strategy, and must demonstrate familiarity with the current market 
availability of the proposed advanced vehicle propulsion technology.
    For project proposals that do not specify a particular 
manufacturer, model, or vendor, applicants must demonstrate that 
vehicles are available of the proposed type that meet or exceed FTA's 
Buy America domestic content requirements.
    For project proposals that involve a partnership with a 
manufacturer, vendor, consultant, or other third party, applicants must 
identify by name any project partners, including but not limited to 
other transit agencies, bus manufacturers, owners or operators of 
related facilities, or any expert consultants. FTA will evaluate the 
experience and capacity of the named project partners to successfully 
implement the proposed project based on the partners' experience and 
qualifications. Applicants are advised to submit information on the 
partners' qualification and experience as a part of the application. 
Entities involved in the project that are not named in the application 
will be required to be selected through a competitive procurement.
    Applicants must also provide the timeframe under which the TIP and/
or STIP can be amended to include the proposed project. This should be 
accompanied by evidence of MPO and/or State endorsement. In addition, 
the proposal should state whether grant funds can be obligated within 
12 months from time of award, if selected. For projects that will 
require formal coordination, approvals or permits from other agencies 
or project partners, the applicant must demonstrate previous 
coordination with these organizations and their support for the 
project, such as through letters of support.
vi. Technical, Legal, and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal and 
financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review relevant 
oversight assessments and records to determine whether there are any 
outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues with the applicant 
that would affect the outcome of the proposed project. FTA will also 
review the proposed source of local match. Applicants should submit 
evidence of the availability of such funds for the project, for example 
by including a board resolution, letter of support from the State, or 
other documentation of the source of local funds.
Review and Selection Process
    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the 
published evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation 
committee and other FTA staff may request additional information from 
applicants, if necessary. Based on the findings of the technical 
evaluation committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final 
selection of projects for program

[[Page 17560]]

funding. FTA may consider geographic diversity, diversity in the size 
of the transit systems receiving funding, and/or the applicant's 
receipt of other competitive awards in determining the allocation of 
program funds. FTA may consider capping the amount a single applicant 
may receive.

F. Federal Award Administration

i. Federal Award Notice
    Subsequent to an announcement by the FTA Administrator of the final 
project selections, which will be posted on the FTA Web site, FTA will 
publish a list of the selected projects, a summary of final scores for 
selected projects, Federal award amounts and recipients in the Federal 
Register. Project recipients should contact their FTA Regional Offices 
for additional information regarding allocations for projects under the 
Bus and Low-No Programs.
    At the time the project selections are announced, FTA will extend 
pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no blanket pre-
award authority for these projects before announcement.
ii. Award Administration
    Funds under the Bus and Low-No Programs are available to States, 
designated recipients, or eligible direct recipients of Section 5307 
funds. There is no minimum or maximum grant award amount; however, FTA 
intends to fund as many meritorious projects as possible. Only 
proposals from eligible recipients for eligible activities will be 
considered for funding. Due to funding limitations, proposers that are 
selected for funding may receive less than the amount originally 
requested. In those cases, applicants must be able to demonstrate that 
the proposed projects are still viable and can be completed with the 
amount awarded.
iii. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
i. Pre-Award Authority
    The FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-
award authority at the time of selection. The FTA does not provide pre-
award authority for competitive funds until projects are selected and 
even then there are Federal requirements that must be met before costs 
are incurred. For more information about FTA's policy on pre-award 
authority, please see the FY 2016 Apportionment Notice published on 
February 16, 2016. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-02-16/pdf/2016-02821.pdf.
ii. Grant Requirements
    If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS). Recipients of Bus Program Funding in 
urban areas and all Low/No Emission recipients, are subject to the 
grant requirements of section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grant 
program, including those of FTA Circular 9030.1E. Recipients of Bus 
Program Funding in rural areas are subject to the grant requirements of 
Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program, including those of 
FTA Circular 9040.1G All recipients must follow the Grants Management 
Requirements of FTA Circular 5010.1D, and the labor protections of 49 
U.S.C. Section 5333(b). All competitive grants, regardless of award 
amount, will be subject to the congressional notification and release 
process. Technical assistance regarding these requirements is available 
from each FTA regional office.
iii. Buy America
    The FTA requires that all capital procurements meet FTA's Buy 
America requirements that require all iron, steel, or manufactured 
products be produced in the U.S., to help create and protect 
manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The Ferry program will have a 
significant economic impact toward meeting the objectives of the Buy 
America law. The Buy America requirements can be found in 49 CFR part 
661. Any proposal that will require a waiver must identify the items 
for which a waiver will be sought in the application. Applicants should 
not proceed with the expectation that waivers will be granted.
iv. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
    Projects that include ferry acquisitions are subject to the 
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program regulations at 49 CFR 
part 26. The rule requires that, prior to bidding on any FTA-assisted 
vehicle procurement, entities that manufacture ferries must submit a 
DBE Program plan and annual goal methodology to FTA. The FTA will then 
issue a transit vehicle manufacturer (TVM) concurrence/certification 
letter. Grant recipients must verify each entity's compliance before 
accepting its bid. A list of certified TVMs is posted on FTA's Web page 
at http://www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/12891.html. Recipients should 
contact FTA before accepting bids from entities not listed on this Web 
posting. Recipients may also establish project specific DBE goals for 
ferry purchases. The FTA will provide additional guidance as grants are 
awarded. For more information on DBE requirements, please contact 
Britney Berry, Office of Civil Rights, 202-366-1065, email: 
britney.berry@dot.gov.
v. Planning
    The FTA encourages proposers to notify the appropriate State 
Departments of Transportation and MPOs in areas likely to be served by 
the project funds made available under these initiatives and programs. 
Selected projects must be incorporated into the long-range plans and 
transportation improvement programs of States and metropolitan areas 
before they are eligible for FTA funding.
vi. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, FTA circulars, and 
other Federal administrative requirements in carrying out any project 
supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges that it is under 
a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the 
grant agreement issued for its project with FTA. The applicant 
understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
administrative practices might be modified from time to time and may 
affect the implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the 
most recent Federal requirements will apply to the project, unless FTA 
issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the 
Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant if it does not 
have current certifications on file.
vii. Reporting
    Post-award reporting requirements include submission of Federal 
Financial Reports and Milestone Reports in FTA's electronic grants 
management system.

G. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.'' The FTA will consider 
applications for funding only from eligible recipients for eligible 
projects listed in Section C. Complete applications must be submitted 
through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. EDT on XXXXXXX. Contact information 
for FTA's regional offices can be found on FTA's Web site at 
www.fta.dot.gov.

H. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice please contact the 
Bus Program manager via email at

[[Page 17561]]

samuel.snead@dot.gov, or call Sam Snead at 202-366-1089. For further 
information concerning this notice contact the Low-No Program manager, 
Tara Clark by phone at 202-366-2623, or by email at tara.clark@dot.gov. 
A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing at 
[number]. In addition, FTA will post answers to questions and requests 
for clarifications on FTA's Web site at http://transit.dot.gov/busprogram. To ensure applicants receive accurate information about 
eligibility or the program, the applicant is encouraged to contact FTA 
directly, rather than through intermediaries or third parties, with 
questions. FTA staff may also conduct briefings on the competitive 
grants selection and award process upon request.

Matthew J. Welbes,
Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 2016-07027 Filed 3-28-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-57-P

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