Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FTA Seeks Proposals for Next Round of Veterans Transportation & Community Living Grants

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has just published a notice inviting applications for a new round of funds under its Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI). The notice appears in the February 7, 2012, Federal Register, and also is on-line at the FTA Veterans web page, www.fta.dot.gov/veterans. Applications are due April 19, 2012. Project selections will be announced in the summer of 2012. Additional information for the benefit of prospective applicants is on the FTA Veterans web page; specific questions may be sent by email to VeteransTransportation@dot.gov.

As was the case with the first round of VTCLI grants, FTA wants these funds to be used for the establishment of "one-call/one-click" transportation centers that help better connect veterans, military families and service members with the range of transportation options in their communities. FTA again is requiring successful applicants to demonstrative substantive partnerships between public transit agencies and veterans/military stakeholders in their communities as a central element of how these integrated one-call/one-click services would be designed and deployed.

The bulk of the funding for this initiative is $25 million in FTA Section 5309 bus and bus facilities funds. Therefore, there are a number of statutory restrictions that may present some hurdles to prospective applicants: units of state, local or tribal government are the only eligible applicants; FTA funds may be used only for 80 percent of project costs, and the remainder must be derived from non-federal dollars or in-kind resources; funds may not be used for mobility management activities, nor for any operational costs.

New this year, FTA is augmenting the Section 5309 funds with $5 million out of its discretionary research account. This allows interested applicants to request up to $50,000 (or half their Section 5309 funded amount, whichever is less) to support coordinated planning, marketing, public engagement activities, etc., that directly help support the success of the Section 5309-funded project, but which expenses are ineligible for Section 5309 funding. These "research" funds would be provided at a 100 percent federal share, and do not carry any non-federal matching fund requirement.

For the most part, FTA anticipates it will NOT award any "Round II" VTCLI grants to projects that were funded in the first round of grants, which were announced in November 2011. However, "Round I" projects may be able to apply for the research funds if they can demonstrate that such funding is needed to help get their Section 5309-supported activities carried out more successfully.

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