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AASHTO Journal

Federal Transit Administration Changes Transit <br>Capital Program to Save Time, Money

The Federal Transit Administration announced changes to its New Starts/Small Starts program last week that it says could save $500,000 annually and reduce administrative work time.

The program is one of the nation's largest competitive grant programs, funding about half of the cost of new and extended light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferry systems built in the United States. FTA recently sought input on ways it could reduce application requirements while making funds easier for communities to obtain and speed up project development without compromising its review process.

"The changes we're making to the New Starts capital investment program are a huge win for communities that want to see more of their local transportation priorities become reality," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff in a statement. "We'll be in a position to save federal and local taxpayers' money and put more Americans to work by allowing good projects to begin construction more quickly."

The four major changes to the program are:

  • The adoption of an easier approach to measure a proposed project's cost-effectiveness,
  • Expanding of the range of environmental benefits accepted in measuring a possible project,
  • Adding certain economic development factors in the project rating process, and
  • Streamlining the project evaluation process by cutting unnecessary regulations.

While the FTA says the changes should save taxpayers about $500,000 each year in administrative costs, even more money could be saved through faster project delivery.

The New Starts/Small Starts program distributed $2 billion for capital transit projects in fiscal year 2012. Additional information on FTA's New Starts program is available at

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