Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tribal Transit Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

Federally recognized Indian tribes are invited to submit applications for the Federal Transit Administration's grant program for public transportation on Indian reservations, commonly called its Tribal Transit Program. FTA has a total of $15.0 million available in this year's round of competitive grants. Priority will be given to funding continuations of existing projects under this program. Applications are due June 29, 2009. Note that grant applications are to be submitted directly to FTA either electronically or in person, as detailed in the Federal Register notice of April 29, 2009; FTA is not accepting applications through the federal website for this program.

New Policy on New Freedom

After a period of review and examination, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued an updated interpretation for the phrase "beyond the ADA" with regard to its Section 5317 New Freedom program. This policy statement was published in the April 29, 2009, Federal Register, and is due to appear shortly on the FTA website.

In brief, FTA has clarified a more inclusive definition of eligible New Freedom projects, stating, in part, "new and expanded fixed route and demand responsive transit service planned for and designed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities are eligible projects." All other aspects of the New Freedom program guidance remain unchanged.

This policy statement takes effect May 29, 2009. For more information, contact David Schneider of FTA at

FTA Announces Formula Funding Apportionments

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the remainder of the FY 2009 formula funding apportionments and allocations. This notice essentially makes these funds available to states and urbanized areas for these programs: Section 5307 (urban transit formula grants), Section 5310 (formula grants for elderly/persons with disabilities capital assistance), Section 5311 (rural transit formula grants), Section 5316 (job access and reverse commute formula grants), Section 5317 (new freedom formula grants), statewide & metropolitan transit planning, and the remainder of funds for designated projects under the Section 5309 transit capital assistance program.

FTA took a slightly different approach with this announcement. The required notice in the Federal Register (published on April 27, 2009) does not include the pages of detailed funding tables. Instead, readers and interested persons are directed straight to the FTA website, where this information is detailed at

UPDATE: FTA did intend (or need) to publish these tables in the Federal Register, after all. The FTA website (see above) is easier to navigate, but there is a complete 76-page notice, detailing all the apportionments and allocations, in the April 30, 2009, Federal Register.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

President Signs National Service Bill Into Law

Today (April 21), President Obama signed the "Serve America Act" into law. At its essence, this is a reuathorization of domestic volunteer service programs managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Our colleagues in the voluntary service sector can speak more eloquently about the overall opportunities that are created under this legislation. Perhaps its most dramatic feature is a tripling of the AmeriCorps program.

There are two leading potential angles of interest for public and community transportation in this legislation. One is that most of the volunteer service programs allow program funds to be used to cover at least a portion of participants' transportation costs, either as part of their stipends, or else as part of sponsors' management of particular service projects. Another is that it is possible for AmeriCorps or other service programs to be used to provide on-the-ground people to do field work, resource coordination, mobility management, or outreach for community-based transportation activities.

In case you're wondering where this legislation may relate to your state or community, here's a list of service programs it has extended, amended, renewed or established:

Learn and Serve America
National Service Trust
National Civilian Conservation Corps
National Senior Service Corps
Volunteers for Prosperity

For information on how the federal government will implement this legislation, go to the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service, at

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Notice - FTA seeks comments on Buy America waiver request

The Federal Transit Administration is seeking comments on whether to grant a waiver from its Buy America requirements for minivans and minivan chassis produced outside the United States. Petitioners have argued that there are no domestically produced minivans or minivan chassis, therefore a waiver on the basis of non-availability is immediately necessary. FTA seeks public comment on this request, in a notice published in the April 2, 2009, Federal Register, and linked from the FTA website at


NOTE: Even though the petitioner is El Dorado National, and the topic centers around Chrysler-produced minivans, the request, if granted would apply to all minivans and minivan chassis, regardless of manufacturer.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

CMS Delays "Benchmark" Rule to 12/31/09

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice April 3 delaying the effective date of their Medicaid "benchmark" rule, and reopening their docket for comments on the rule. The effective date of the rule is postponed to December 31, 2009. Comments on the rule are being accepted through May 4, 2009. This notice was published in the April 3, 2009, Federal Register.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Congress takes a break

Congress is now on recess, having raced through a month of passing budget resolutions, reauthorizing national and community service programs, completing the FY 2009 appropriations, and more.