8 Essentials of MAP-21

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Page 2 of 4

MAP-21 provides a new, streamlined process for projects using New Starts funding, such as New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Subway project.
MAP-21 provides a new, streamlined process for projects using New Starts funding, such as New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Subway project.


While there are a vast number of changes, additions and deletions to MAP-21, METRO Magazine compiled eight of the bill’s highlights based on the Conference Report released in July.

1. America Fast Forward/TIFIA
Both of the initial House and Senate authorization proposals significantly expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA), the popular federal surface transportation credit assistance program, increasing funding from $120 million in FY 2012 to $1 billion annually.

The Conferees largely adopted the Senate’s TIFIA provision, with some modifications establishing application procedures to impose deadlines for actions by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and requiring an annual application process report by the U.S. DOT. The conference report authorizes funding for the TIFIA program at $750 million in FY 2013 and $1 billion in FY 2014.

2. Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants (New Starts)
MAP-21 will reform and streamline the “Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grant” program, which was previously the “Major Capital Investment Grant” or “New Starts” program. Based on extensive feedback from project sponsors and other stakeholders, the bill streamlines the New Starts process to accelerate project delivery by eliminating duplicative steps in project development and instituting a modified program structure that will allow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to review proposals quickly, without sacrificing effective project oversight.

Both the House and Senate New Starts provisions included expanded use of warrants to expedite the project rating, evaluation and approval processes. The conference report adopts the Senate’s language expanding the use of warrants for projects with a New Starts share not exceeding $100 million or 50% of total project costs.

Projects under $100 million can utilize an expedited review process if they meet standards of similar highly qualified projects. The bill also creates a category of demonstration projects for sponsors that propose a significant amount of local and/or private funding and reduce the federal commitment required for the projects.

MAP-21 also establishes a new category for capital investment projects by authorizing core capacity projects, which will undergo the same process as other New Starts projects but provide an opportunity for existing systems to make necessary but significant investments that were not previously eligible for funding. The conference report requires that eligible activities under a core capacity project achieve at least a 10% increase in capacity along a corridor.

The Senate agreed to a House request to modify the definition of bus rapid transit (BRT) projects in the Senate bill to allow broader use of the program. There are also incentives for the development of BRT projects that incorporate elements of fixed guideway transit like light rail.
The report authorized $1.907 billion for each of Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. The level is below the $1.955 billion authorized in FY 2012.

3. Formula Grant Programs
Urbanized Area Grants (Sec. 5307, 5336) continues as the largest program for federal investment in public transportation. MAP-21 will allocate $4.398 billion in FY 2013 and $4.459 billion in FY 2014 for urbanized area programs, slightly less than the $4.552 billion in FY 2012. The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program activities will now be funded under the Sec. 5307 formula program.

The bill authorizes $422 million in FY 2013 and $427.8 million in FY 2014 for a Bus and Bus Facilities Formula program. The funding level, which is below the current $984 million, was a major change from what the Senate bill had originally proposed, with essentially no funding as the bill was reported from committee and only $75 million authorized as a takedown from the Capital Investment Grants account when S. 1813 was passed by the Senate. The new program is a formula grant program, instead of a discretionary grant program in current law, and does not restrict agencies that operate rail services from eligibility, as proposed in the House T&I Committee bill, H.R. 7. A minimum allocation is made available to all states, with the remaining funds distributed based on population and service factors.

The conference agreement also retained Sec. 5340 formula grant programs for High Density States and Growing States. The program is authorized at a level of $518.7 million in FY 2013 and $525.9 million in FY 2014, an increase of more than 13%.

The Elderly and Disabled (Sec. 5310) and New Freedom (Sec. 5317) Programs are combined into a single program that will fund activities designed to enhance the mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities (the new program remains under Sec. 5310). The consolidated program will increase the level of resources available for elderly and disabled transportation programs.

The conference report also authorizes increased funding for Rural Area Grants (Sec. 5311), to fund public transportation activities in rural areas. The Sec. 5311 Rural Formula program is funded at $599.5 million in FY 2013 and $607.8 million in FY 2014, compared to an estimated $547.3 million in FY 2012. The bill also provides for rural job access and reverse commute activities to now be funded under this section and repeals the Clean Fuels Formula Program as well as the Transit in the Parks Program.

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