FTA is undertaking an effort to speed up planning, approval and delivery of FTA capital investments and better support innovative financing methods FTAlogothat support capital investments in transit. The multi-faceted Expedited Public Transportation Improvement (XPEDITE) Initiative will enhance and increase the transit industry’s access to:

  • Improved public transportation technologies;
  • Proven methods to speed up planning, development, approval and delivery of FTA supported capital investments; and
  • Enhanced financing methods and opportunities for public-private partnerships through “value capture” that support improved capital project delivery.

To gather public comment on the initiative, FTA will launch an Online Dialogue on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 that will run through October 16, 2015. The dialogue will be free, open to all and accessible 24/7. Tell the agency what you think should be part of XPEDITE.

Preview the dialogue here. You will not be able to participate until the session launches at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Who Should Participate?

The dialogue is open to the general public but the topic of XPEDITE might be particularly interesting to:

  • State agency personnel
  • MPOs
  • Local government staff
  • Transit agencies
  • Non-profits and transit advocacy groups
  • Private sector groups or individuals interested in transit

Why Participate?

We do not have all the answers! FTA wants to hear from the transit industry and others interested in public transportation on ways to improve program delivery. FTA will consider the comments received through the Online Dialogue as it updates its administrative requirements. If necessary, FTA will propose changes in those requirements through its normal Notice and Comment processes to help expedite program delivery.

FTA will provide a list of questions and subjects to which we seek comments, but it’s important that you tell us any other issues to be considered as we work on XPEDITE. No one knows the challenges faced by transit providers better than those working every day to keep America moving, so please share your insights with us!

Once the online dialogue has closed, you may request a report listing all comments and suggestions, and to see which ideas were most popular with those who commented.

How Can I Participate?

Give us an idea, comment/vote on someone else’s idea, or submit your own comment. We suggested questions that can guide your initial thoughts, but any feedback on this initiative is welcome.

Register online as an individual or a provider at any time. Once registered, you may add your recommendations, observations, vote on others’ comments, and add your comments to other posts. Your posts will be attributed to the user name you create when you register.

FTAlogoLOS ANGELES – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced $9.5 million in grants to 19 projects in 13 states selected to help train a new generation of skilled workers and support long-term careers in the public transportation industry. The announcement was made at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC), and the grants are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development program.

“The public transit industry offers good-paying careers that can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and more of these careers will be available in the future,” said Secretary Foxx. “These grants will help us overcome skills gaps and provide more young people with the training, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities they need to gain entry into these careers.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor today released a joint report entitled “Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry.” The report details the future growth areas or employment “hot spots” in transportation by industry subsectors, occupations, career areas, and geographic areas.

Secretary Foxx was joined by FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, executives from LATTC, Community Career Development, Inc. (CCD), the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and state and local officials. Students from LATTC’s Transportation Technologies program were also on hand to speak about their experiences and demonstrate the skills they have learned at LATTC.

“The demand for skilled transit workers will continue to grow as new projects are planned, built, and come on line and as ridership continues to expand in cities like Los Angeles and other communities across the country,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan. “And we are committed to making careers in transit a real ladder to opportunity by helping provide education and financial security, especially for those in disadvantaged communities.”

Two organizations in Los Angeles were selected in this latest round of FTA workforce development grants: LATTC will receive funding to establish the Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training – the first program of its kind in a community college in the country; and CCD will receive funding for its Moving Employees into Transit Related Opportunities (METRO) program, which will partner with organizations like LA Valley College to recruit and train low-income individuals, women, veterans, minorities, and others from communities throughout Metropolitan Los Angeles.

FTA’s workforce development projects will develop or expand strategic partnerships with transit agencies, labor unions, nonprofits, and academic institutions, and some will also support small businesses in the transit sector owned by women and minorities. In addition, several projects will serve as scalable models that can be applied to future projects throughout the United States.

Among the projects selected nationwide:

  • The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive funding for the Career Pathways Program, which will address all aspects of the transit workforce by leveraging partnerships with Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, and El Barrio Workforce Development Center.
  • Intercity Transit in Olympia, WA, will receive funding for its innovative Village Vans program, which aims to serve as a national model for rural transit agencies with large service areas. Like many rural agencies, Intercity Transit relies on volunteer drivers to meet its operational needs, and Village Vans provides volunteers free workforce training that prepares them for potential employment with Intercity Transit or other positions related to vehicle operations.
  • The Grand Gateway Economic Development Association in Northeast Oklahoma will receive funding to establish the N2N Automotive University. This program will identify and train participants, including those from impoverished Native American communities, in automotive repair skills that can be applied to transit vehicles as well as a range of automotive careers. This project will use an innovative Nation-to-Nation (N2N) recruitment strategy.

Eligible applicants included public transportation providers at the state, local, and regional level, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Native American tribes, non-profit institutions, and institutions of higher education. A list of selected projects is available online.

Demand for FTA’s workforce grants far exceeded available funds, as FTA received a total of 50 applications requesting over $27 million. The Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act would provide $478 billion over the next six years to help build the transportation workforce of the future, providing consistent long-term funding for transportation and infrastructure.

These grants come at a crucial time in the transportation industry. According to the Strengthening Skills Training report, employers will need to hire and train a total of 4.6 million new workers – 1.2 times the current transportation workforce – due to expected growth, retirements, and turnover in the transportation industry from 2012 to 2022.

It is projected that 417,000 of these positions will be created as a direct result to increased demand on our transportation systems, and the highest percentage of these jobs will be in transit and ground passenger transportation.

nj_transit_logoThe Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award New Jersey Transit more than $71.4 million in Hurricane Sandy recovery funds for various repair and resiliency projects. 

These projects include recovery and resiliency work currently underway, such as the elevation of key substations in Hoboken, Kearny and Bay Head.

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FTAlogoWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA)  announced a proposed rule to establish a Public Transportation Safety Program under FTA’s new safety oversight authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The proposed rule would create an overall framework for FTA to monitor, oversee and enforce safety in the public transit industry, and is based on the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems (SMS).

“Every day, millions of Americans take public transportation to get to work, school, medical appointments, and other important destinations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This new program will help us ensure that transit continues to be a safe way to get around, and a safe place to work.”

The proposed rule would implement FTA’s authority to conduct inspections, audits, and examinations; testing of equipment, facilities, rolling stock, and the operations of a public transit systems; and for FTA to take appropriate enforcement actions, including directing the use or withholding of Federal funds and issuing directives and advisories. The rule would establish SMS as the foundation for FTA’s safety program, which focuses on organization-wide safety policy and accountability, proactive hazard identification, and risk-based decision-making.

The proposed rule also defines the contents of a National Public Transportation Safety Plan (National Safety Plan), which FTA expects to publish in a separate Federal Register notice for public review and comment in the next several months. The National Plan will include safety performance criteria for all modes of public transportation, minimum safety performance standards for transit vehicles used in revenue operations, the definition of “state of good repair,” a Safety Certification Training Program, and other content determined by FTA.

“With transit ridership at its highest levels in generations, and our nation’s transit agencies facing increased pressure to meet the demand for service, we must continue to ensure that safety remains the top priority,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This rulemaking is a major step forward in establishing FTA’s safety regulatory framework, as all future safety-related rules, regulations and guidance will be informed by the Public Transportation Safety Program.”

Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by October 13, 2015.

Earlier this year, FTA announced a proposed rule to increase oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) for rail transit systems, and the publication of a final interim safety certification training program. By early 2016, FTA expects to issue a final SSOA rule, as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish permanent training provisions.

FTAlogoBethesda, Md. – Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan was at a bus stop just north of Bethesda Maryland to highlight the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the landmark legislation’s 25th anniversary. The Acting Administrator spoke about the great advances that have been made since the Act was passed, most notably that nationwide, 99.8 percent of transit buses are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, thanks to features like lifts and ramps.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that everyone, including people with disabilities, can fully access the transportation services they need to get to work, to school and to live their lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I commend the public transportation industry for its hard work to make subways, light rail, buses and other transit services increasingly accessible.”

In spite of the large percentage of facilities that are compliant, many bus stops, typically maintained by local government agencies, remain a challenge to accessibility. To address that, Maryland’s Montgomery County embarked on a comprehensive rehabilitation program of the county’s 5,340 stops. At the North Bethesda bus stop today, McMillan and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett highlighted how the county’s $11 million Bus Stop Improvement Program brought the county’s stops into ADA compliance. Since 2006, the county has improved safety and increased accessibility at 89 percent of its bus stops, in part with ADA-accessible paths for passengers to get to and from bus stops.

“We congratulate Montgomery County for improving its bus system, which provides a lifeline to people who don’t drive,” McMillan said. “We know that many people with disabilities travel by bus, and we want to be sure that they can travel anywhere public transportation is offered across the country.”

People with disabilities are relying increasingly on buses to participate in daily activities rather than paratransit. A 2013 Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) report studied seven transit systems across the country and found that ridership on fixed-route transit by persons with disabilities was two to six times greater than ridership on paratransit. A TCRP nationwide survey of people with disabilities found that one-third of respondents indicated they wanted to take public transportation, specifically fixed-route buses.

All rail transit systems built since 1990, many of them light rail, are required to meet ADA regulations for accessibility and are inspected by FTA for compliance as a condition of federal funding. DOT’s Reasonable Modification Rule, which went into effect last week, clarifies that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and procedures to ensure programs and services are accessible.

While the rail transit industry has ensured compliance with an ADA requirement that at least one car per train is accessible, many transit systems struggle to retrofit older, often space-constrained stations.

“We need to do more to ensure that people with disabilities have reliable access to public transportation, which is why we are seeking additional investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” McMillan said. “Older stations remain challenging for people in wheelchairs to traverse, and elevators frequently go out of service, leaving them with few or no options.”

FTA supports transit agencies nationwide through a combination of annual formula funds and grants for transit projects. Montgomery County’s bus program receives approximately $10 million a year through FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Grant program.

As part of the celebration of ADA-25, the Department of Transportation is co-hosting an “ADA: 25 Years of Disability Civil Rights” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that demonstrates accessibility at home, in the workplace and in transportation. The exhibit will run Friday-Sunday on the National Mall behind the American History Museum as part of a slate of ADA-25 commemorative activities.

FTAlogoThe Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently published a Federal Register notice seeking nominations for up to eight representatives from the public transportation safety community for Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) membership.

TRACS was chartered in 2009 by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation for the purpose of providing a forum for the development, consideration and communication of information regarding public transit safety.

Nominees should be knowledgeable of trends or issues related to rail transit and bus transit safety, and will be evaluated on factors including leadership and organizational skills, geographic representation, staff diversity, and the overall balance of industry representation. Appointments are for two-year terms and applications should be submitted by August 31, 2015. For more information contact Steve Kulm at (202) 366-9260.

FTAlogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that would improve the process for testing the safety and reliability of new transit buses funded with federal dollars. The proposed rule would establish minimum performance standards, a new pass-fail grading system for bus testing, and a weighted scoring process that would better assist local transit agencies in purchasing an appropriate vehicle.

In addition, the proposed rule would clarify and improve verification of two Departmental regulations: the Buy America requirements that have stimulated American manufacturing of transit vehicles, components and related technology; and the rules that support businesses owned by women and minorities (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises) throughout the supply chain.

“Millions of riders depend on transit buses every day to get to work, school, healthcare, and home again,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “While buses are already a very safe mode of travel, transit customers deserve to know that the buses they ride on are as safe and reliable as possible.”

The proposed rule would require new buses meet minimum thresholds in structural integrity, safety, maintainability, reliability, fuel economy, emissions, noise, and performance. The rule would refine and streamline the existing standardized procedures used by the FTA Bus Testing Facility at Pennsylvania State University’s Larson Transportation Institute in Altoona, Pa.

“When the FTA helps local transit agencies purchase new buses, it is imperative that those vehicles are a high-quality investment,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This proposed rule would help ensure buses are long lasting and low maintenance, saving transit agencies valuable resources and reducing the frustrating delays that riders endure when buses have to be removed from service unexpectedly.”

The proposed bus testing rule was developed following extensive outreach to FTA’s partners across the transit industry, including transit vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers, public transit agencies, and state departments of transportation. Public outreach efforts will continue throughout the comment period to solicit feedback from these and other stakeholders.

The proposed rule was directed by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). As FTA continues to implement its statutory safety authority under MAP-21, the proposed bus testing rule will be coordinated with FTA’s other safety initiatives.

FTAlogoPresident Barack Obama has renominated Therese McMillan as the next administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) after the U.S. Senate failed to act on her nomination in the last Congress.

McMillan has served as the agency’s acting administrator since Peter Rogoff was appointed under secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation early last year. McMillan has been the FTA’s deputy administrator since 2009.

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