Tuesday, October 5, 2010

National Transit Database - What's Going to Count?

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) uses its National Transit Database (NTD) for a number of purposes. Most significantly, NTD data are used to determine how funds are distributed under the FTA Section 5307 (formula grants for urban public transit) and fixed-guideway modernization programs. Since these two programs account for 55 percent of the FTA program, it's important to the transit community and to FTA that NTD data be reliable and consistent.

In recent years, the urban transit network has branched out in many innovative ways. More urban transit services are provided to specialized audiences, such as customers of human services programs. Urban transit providers are using new modes of service delivery, such as "flex route" or "route deviation" services, bus rapid transit, and vanpools to better serve various customers and communities. With commuting distances growing longer every year, many urban transit providers are extending services into surrounding rural areas, or even providing transit services that connect multiple urbanized areas. In order to assure that these urban transit systems are able to receive the FTA formula funds they need for these services, accurate NTD data are essential.

To that end, FTA is seeking comments on some amendments it hopes to make to the NTD reporting procedures that will be used in the 2011 reporting year. This solicitation of comments appears in the October 5, 2010, Federal Register at page 61553, and also appears on the FTA website. Comments are being collected through December 6, 2010.

Some of the NTD reporting topics for which FTA is seeking customer input are: (1) circumstances and criteria for reporting vanpool data to the NTD; (2) reporting for commuter bus, bus rapid transit, and various forms of rail transit modes; (3) clarifying some definitions of certain aerial tramway and rail-related reporting terms; (4) consistent reporting procedures for transit agencies with 9 or fewer vehicles, including those that operate in both urbanized and rural areas; (5) simplified financial balance sheet reporting; (6) rules of attribution for transit agencies operating in more than one urbanized area, or that operate in both urbanized and rural areas; and (7) procedures for responding to any changes in urbanized area status that may occur during the 2011 NTD reporting year.

Official comments on this FTA notice should be made electronically through www.regulations.gov (use docket number FTA-2010-0027]. For further information on the NTD and this particular FTA notice, contact FTA's John Giorgis by phone (202-366-5340) or email (john.giorgis@dot.gov)

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