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The FAST Act by the Numbers; Summarizing Its Key Facts and Figures

Editor's Note: This version of the story does not include graphics that appear in the print edition. To see these graphics, click here.

As the public transportation industry transitions from advocating for a long-term authorization bill to implementing the new five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), Passenger Transport and APTA’s Government Affairs team offer this summary of its public transportation-related facts and figures.

Background and Highlights
President Barack Obama signed the FAST Act into law on Dec. 4, 2015, with an effective date of Oct. 1; it applies new program rules to all FY16 funds.

The FAST Act authorizes surface transportation programs for five fiscal years (FY16-FY20), through Sept. 30, 2020. It’s the first long-term comprehensive surface transportation legislation since the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was enacted in 2005.

It reflects many of APTA’s recommendations, which were developed by the Authorization Task Force and the High-Speed and Intercity Rail and Legislative committees, after several listening sessions and meetings to gather, vet and consolidate recommendations from a wide range of members.

“Despite a challenging federal budgetary and political environment, we worked cooperatively with Congress to enact a fully funded, five-year authorization bill that grows federal investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy in APTA’s ­Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act: A Guide to Public Transportation and Rail-Related Provisions.

Over the FAST Act’s life, it authorizes a total of $61.1 billion for all programs administered by FTA. It authorizes $11.8 billion for public transit programs in FY16, with increases to $12.6 billion by FY20—an increase of 17.7 percent over FY15.

“Under the new law, much of the federal transit program structure remains in place,” states the APTA guide. “It retains the urban and rural formula programs that distribute mostly capital assistance based on need and a program for new fixed guideway starts and extensions. It preserves the state of good repair formula program, a program for seniors and individuals with disabilities and the formula programs for growing states and high-density states.“

The measure maintains the existing bus and bus facilities formula program, and it creates a new bus and bus facilities competitive grant program that grows federal investment levels in buses and bus facilities,” adds the guide.

In addition, the guide reports that the act places TIFIA and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing programs under a single agency at DOT and conforms some standards under the two programs.

Major Public Transit Features
Reintroduces a Bus Competitive Grant Program
Increases Buy America requirements incrementally from 60 to 70 percent by FY 2020
Institutes changes to the Workforce Development Program
Increases funding for the state of good repair and the bus program
Streamlines vehicle procurement and leasing

Select Specific Measures

Bus and Bus Facilities
Bus Competitive Grant Program includes $268 million for FY16, with $55 million set aside for Low or No Emission Bus Deployment competition
Remaining $213 million competitively distributed based on age and condition of assets
ncludes pilot program for cost-effective capital investment, allowing state to share bus funding resources among voluntarily participating designated recipients to allow them to procure more vehicles at a time at a lower cost

Public Transportation Safety Program
Requires establishment of minimum safety standards as part of the National Safety Plan
Permits FTA to temporarily take over for inadequate or ­incapable State Safety Oversight (SSO) agency; permits use of agency’s SSO funds during corrective timeframe
Grants FTA permission to issue nationwide transit safety directives
Grants FTA permission to issue restrictions or prohibitions on operations at unsafe transit agencies
Requires FTA to conduct review of systems’ safety standards, protocols to examine their efficacy
Requires final report on review findings, with comprehensive recommendations and actions needed to improve safety by establishing additional federal minimum safety standards
Requires study, report on evidentiary protection for public transportation safety program information, data
Requires DOT rulemaking to ­prevent driver assaults

Expedited Project Delivery, Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Pilot Program
Creates fast-track approval process for capital project construction grants, with maximum of 25 percent federal share
Includes project justification, finance criteria (altered from the typical CIG criteria)
Limited to 8 participants, New Starts, Small Starts or Core Capacity but with different eligibility than CIG

Innovative Coordinated Access, Mobility Pilot Program
Competitively distributes funding for projects that improve coordination of transportation services with non-emergency medical transportation services
Funding intended for organizations focused on coordinated transportation solutions
Authorizes funding at $2 ­million in FY16, $3 million in FY17, $3.25 million in FY18, $3.5 million each in FY19 and FY20

Technical Assistance, Workforce Development
Maintains National Transit Institute (NTI)
Maintains Workforce Development as competitive program, without reach to additional populations, focus on national training standards, increased outcome requirements and report to Congress
Authorizes $9 million per year, with $5 million set aside for NTI

Metropolitan and Statewide Planning Program

Adds resiliency, intercity bus to planning considerations
Provides MPOs that serve Transportation Management Associations with option to develop Congestion Management Plan
Clarifies role of transit agency representatives on MPO boards
Authorizes $130.7 million for FY16

Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants
New Starts: establishes maximum 60 percent of program share, with up to 80 percent federal share (from other federal sources); directs FTA to include art and landscaping in cost-­effectiveness calculation (agencies can use STP, CMAQ, TIFIA, TIGER funds to reach the 80 percent threshold)
Small Starts: raises the total project cost threshold to $300 million and raises maximum share to $100 million; changes definition for corridor-based BRTs to eliminate weekend service requirement
Establishes framework for joint intercity rail, public transportation projects
Authorizes $2.3 billion per year

Procurement Changes
Allows for interstate cooperative procurement schedules, state-led cooperative procurement schedules on behalf of transit agencies within the state and a non-profit cooperative procurement pilot program
Establishes Joint Procurement Clearinghouse to allow grantees to aggregate planned rolling stock purchases, identify joint procurement participants
Encourages capital leasing of assets

Buy America
Introduces increased domestic content percentage requirements: 60 percent, FY16-17; 65 percent, FY18-19; 70 percent, FY20 and beyond
Permits transit body shell composed of domestically produced steel and/or iron to be counted toward percentage
For denied waivers, FTA is required to certify availability, quality of domestically produced item for which the waiver was denied

State of Good Repair (SOGR)
Modifies eligibility in high-intensity motorbus tier to cover only vehicle SOGR costs
Codifies the federal/local match share at 80/20; specifies eligible local match funding
Authorizes $2.5 billion in FY16, an increase from $2.1 billion in FY15

Rail Provisions
Includes a rail title that restructures Amtrak
Authorizes separate funding under three rail investment programs
Increases total funding from $200 million in FY16 to $650 million in FY20 for intercity passenger rail

Urbanized Area Formula Program

Modifies 100-bus rule to include non-ADA general population demand-response transit service
Allows 20 percent of allocation for ADA paratransit operations under certain conditions
Increases Small Transit Intensive Cities tier starting in FY19
Authorizes $4.53 billion for FY16

Formula Grants for Rural Areas
Increases the tribal formula authorization to $30 million per year, maintains the $5 million discretionary tribal program
Allows advertisement and concessions revenue as local match
Clarifies costs that counted as local match with respect to intercity bus feeder service
Authorizes $620 million for FY16

Research and TCRPRenames FTA’s research program the Public Transportation Innovation Program
Funds demonstration, deployment, evaluation research projects; maintains match requirement
Introduces a Low/No Vehicle component testing program, funded at $3 million per year
Moves TCRP to Mass Transit Account, funds it at $5 million per year

Enhanced Mobility of Seniors, Individuals with Disabilities
Allows states, localities that provide transit service to be direct recipients
Requires FTA to develop best practices guide for service providers
Introduces pilot program for Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility
Authorizes $263 million for FY16

Information supplied by APTA and FTA
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