This week, FTA published Circular 9030.1E, which will help recipients of Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program funding better understand and comply with changes brought about by MAP-21, the most recent transportation authorizing legislation. The following press release was issued from the Federal Transit Authority:

FTA Circular 9030.1E—Urbanized Area Formula Program

Circular 9030.1E is the final program guidance on the implementation of MAP-21 for FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Program. The revised circular addresses the repeal of FTA’s former SAFETEA-LU programs and the implementation of programs newly established or modified by MAP-21. The largest of FTA’s grant programs, this program provides grants to urbanized areas to support public transportation. Funding is distributed by formula based on the level of transit service provision, population, and other factors. Total funding is $4.9 billion in FY 2013 and $5 billion in FY 2014 (including the Growing States and High Density States formula).

The program remains largely unchanged with a few notable exceptions:

• Job access and reverse commute activities now eligible
Activities eligible under the former Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, which focused on providing services to low-income individuals to access jobs, are now eligible under the Urbanized Area Formula program. This includes operating assistance, with a 50 percent local match for job access and reverse commute activities. In addition, the urbanized area formula for distributing funds now includes the number of low-income individuals as a factor. There is no floor or ceiling on the amount of funds that can be spent on job access and reverse commute activities.

• Expanded eligibility for operating expenses for systems with 100 or fewer buses
MAP-21 expands eligibility for using Urbanized Area Formula funds for operating expenses. Previously, only urbanized areas with populations below 200,000 were eligible to use Federal transit funding for operating expenses. Now, systems operating 100 or fewer buses in fixed-route service during peak service hours may use up to 75 percent of their “attributable share” of funding for operating expenses.

• New takedowns for passenger ferry grants and state safety oversight
The apportionment process now sets aside $30 million per year for a discretionary public transportation ferry program. The apportionment process also sets aside a percentage of the apportionment for state safety oversight organizations for the oversight of rail public transportation systems.