The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) hosted a session at the 2023 APTA TRANSform & Expo for a deeper discussion of the administration’s public transit priorities.
The Federal Partners Update’s panel featured: FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Associate Administrator for Communications and Congressional Affairs Paul Kincaid, Executive Director Matthew Welbes, Acting Associate Administrator for Program Management Bruce Ronison, Chief Business Advisor James Harper, and Regional Administrator Yvette Taylor.
FTA Highlights Initiatives
Fernandez emphasized the All Stations Accessibility Program, Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, and the Transit-Oriented Development Program as the initiatives that the administration is most proud of.
The latest developments from these programs:
- In December 2022, the FTA announced 15 grants in nine states to help make it easier for people with disabilities and mobility needs to access the U.S.’s oldest rail transit systems through upgrades. Approximately $686 million in grants represented the first round of funding from the new All Stations Accessibility Program, according to FTA's news release.
- On June 26, the FTA announced $1.69 billion in FY23 Low- and No-Emission and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities project selections supporting 130 projects for people and communities in 46 states and territories.
- On Aug. 7, the FTA announced the availability of approximately $13.4 million in competitive grants for the Fiscal Year 2023 Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning Program.
Fernandez also addresses topics such as safety. She shared that the FTA has had a meeting with the National Campaign for Transit Justice and they are creating “open houses” to better engage with the community.
The FTA has also co-hosted listening sessions with Asian American communities about their safety on public transportation.
FTA Announces Award Winner
Later in the session, the FTA announced the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) as the winner of the 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Document Preparation.
The award recognizes environmental documents that showcase best practices for a well-managed environmental documentation process, comply with prevailing requirements and expectations, and achieve the objective of paperwork reduction, according to the FTA.
FTA Discusses State of Bus Manufacturing
The issues in bus manufacturing have been a hot topic at the APTA TRANSform & Expo.
Recent data showed that in 2022 vs. 2021 overall transit bus production declined by 652 units, or 14%, from 4,703 units in 2021 to 4,051 units in 2022.
Robinson and Harper did not shy away from the topic during the FTA session, as he stated that the bus manufacturing process is “now taking up to three years due to supply chain issues.”
Harper also discussed rising bus costs and delivery timelines.
Harper suggests agencies eliminate customization and move to use-of-performance specifications. He also said agencies can use state schedules for acquisitions.