Bus

New Starts moves continue rail favoritism over BRT

Posted on February 9, 2010 by Cliff Henke

[IMAGE]Rails.jpg[/IMAGE]The Obama administration continues to display a preference for rail-based public transportation modes in its recent regulatory and budgetary actions. However, whether transit agencies and cities can take advantage of these new opportunities will continue to depend in part on local factors.

Taking away BRT favoritism

The first recent move came with the FTA's announcement in December of two new programs designed to implement the administration's livability agenda. The programs total $280 million for urban circulator, bus and bus facility projects. The first is for urban circulator systems, funded with $130 million in unobligated discretionary New Starts/Small Starts money.

The second is for a Livability Bus program, funded by $150 million in unobligated Discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities Program money. Evaluation criteria for both programs are the same; promoting transportation options is only one evaluation measure, with the others having to do with economic development and energy security.

Project proposals for both programs were due Feb. 8, 2010, with expected project awards announced by the summer of this year. While both programs were launched with already appropriated funds for previous years, they showed that the administration was committed to assisting projects that emphasized economic development as much as promoting mobility.

In January, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed a revision of funding guidelines for major transit projects so that evaluation of submitted projects will be based equally on livability issues, such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved - currently the primary criteria. The FTA immediately rescinded budget restrictions issued by the "Dear Colleague" letter and other policy guidance of the Bush administration that focused the agency's evaluation primarily on a cost-effectiveness index that emphasized how much a project shortened commute times in comparison to its cost. In the Bush criteria, bus rapid transit (BRT) almost always scored more favorably than rail-based projects because of this index.

Local decisions

Both announcements clearly signal a new desire to de-emphasize evaluations based on criteria that almost always favored BRT over rail and virtually shut out streetcar projects from federal funding. This is not to say, however, that the feds will rescue a project that is struggling locally. For one thing, the new programs have grant caps of $25 million, meaning that other funds will have to be lined up; moreover, statutory local match rules still apply.

Secondly, environmental review, local approvals and demonstration of local financial and technical capacity are still required. Finally, while the recent moves undid some of the rules stacked in favor of BRT, it only leveled the playing field.

In other words, a worthy project still needs local support and local financial contribution, regardless of mode.

 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

BC Transit piloting video cameras on buses

Up to six cameras will be installed on each bus. There is no live monitoring of the video which will only be removed and viewed by authorized security staff following a reported incident. Only video required for security purposes will be retained, all other video will be erased.

Calif. agencies approve merger

Pending adoption by its member entities, the merger between Victor Valley Transit Authority and Barstow Area Transit is slated to take effect July 1, 2015.

MCI Stands Up for Transportation in Pembina, Chicago and Louisville

Officials at MCI’s Pembina plant included Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; North Dakota Commerce Department Commissioner Alan Anderson; Gail Hand, northeastern director for Sen Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Tom Brusegaard, regional director for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D;  Pembina County Commissioner Hetty Walker; and Cavalier, N.D. Mayor Ken Briese.

Uber adds rickshaws to service in India

Drivers are told to say ‘namaste,’ a common Indian greeting, and are encouraged to use their meters. Uber pays its drivers an additional 40 rupees, or just over 60 cents, per ride on top of the fare.

2,627 complaints lodged on Fla.'s HART bus system

The unedited complaints represent only one side of the story and often are fired off by people who are upset. HART says its own GPS and video technology shows many are plain wrong. The agency relies upon the list to target areas of customer service that are in need of improvement.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close