October 5, 2011

FTA team discusses progress, proposals

New Starts streamlining proposal announced during FTA panel

At the General Forum: "Federal Transit Administration Priorities & Update," Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Deputy Administrator Therese W. McMillan and FTA Chief Counsel Dorval Carter discussed several topics of interest including Buy America requirements, civil rights initiatives, and the most recent work at the FTA in regards to funding projects and programs.

"We're working under a President of the United States that really cares about what we do," said Rogoff. "It's the kind of stress you want to have."

Rogoff then touched on the success of programs including TIGGER and the public transportation projects moving forward after receiving ARRA funding, as well as the proposed $9 billion for public transportation in Obama's American Jobs Act.

He also spoke about the availability of funds to keep systems in a state of good repair, 5307/5311 formula grants and reauthorization proposals that have been worked on at FTA.

Rogoff's big announcement of the session, though, was that a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking was now being released to streamline the New Starts process.

During her time, McMillan announced the FTA is sponsoring a series of Information Sessions regarding FTA's proposed revisions to the Title VI Circular and proposed Environmental Justice Circular.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Specifically, Title VI provides that "no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Prior to opening up to the audience to hear their questions and concerns, Carter spoke about FTA's new approach to more properly ensure that Buy America requirements are being properly complied with. He and Rogoff also urged those in attendance that failing to comply with the requirements would cause the FTA to postpone the procurement, thus, adding more time to the process.

"If you are not sure or have a question, call us quickly," urged Carter.

Also discussed was a proposal to up the Buy America content requirement for rolling stock from 60 percent to 100 percent in a phased approach.

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