8 Essentials of MAP-21

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

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A negotiated compromise between the House and Senate gives the Secretary of Transportation authority to create a national safety plan for all modes of public transportation. Photo Courtesy T4America
A negotiated compromise between the House and Senate gives the Secretary of Transportation authority to create a national safety plan for all modes of public transportation. Photo Courtesy T4America

4. Metropolitan and Statewide Transportation Planning
The Conference report improved metropolitan and statewide planning processes to incorporate a more comprehensive, performance-based approach. The report requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to establish performance targets that address issues such as safety and state of good repair. This will include a system performance report. Additionally, the final language mandates that the structure of all MPOs, designated as “Transportation Management Areas,” must include officials of public agencies (including transit agencies) that administer or operate major modes of transportation in the metropolitan area.

The conference report also creates a pilot program to fund planning efforts for transit oriented development projects. The pilot is funded at $10 million in FY 2013 and 2014. Funding will assist with costs of comprehensive planning for new fixed guideway capital projects or core capacity improvement projects funded with federal dollars.

5. Operating assistance/subsidies
The conference report adopts “100 bus rule” language, as proposed by the American Public Transportation Association. This provision allows transit systems in urbanized areas with populations greater than 200,000 to utilize portions of their 5307 funding for operating assistance if their system operates 100 or fewer buses in peak service. The conference report does not include language that would have allowed transit systems to utilize a portion of their 5307 funding for operating assistance during periods of high unemployment.

The Senate version of MAP-21 passed in March 2012 included a provision that would have equalized the amount of pre-tax employer-provided mass transit benefits with the amount of pre-tax employer-provided parking benefits at $240 per month, but this provision was dropped in the conference committee report. Pre-tax transit benefits will remain capped at $125 per month.

6. Project Delivery
MAP-21 combines provisions from the House and Senate bills focusing on shared priority of accelerating project delivery. It maintains the vast majority of project acceleration provisions from S. 1813 and provisions from the House bill, in addition to new provisions that will maintain substantive environment and public health protections while streamlining the creation and use of documents and environmental reviews, enhancing efficiency and accountability in the project delivery process.

The conference report adopts and modifies provisions from the House bill directing the Secretary of Transportation to designate, through rulemaking, certain activities as categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Secretary of Transportation is also directed to designate projects receiving limited federal assistance as a categorical exclusion. The categorical exclusion applies to any project that receives less than $5 million in federal funds and any project with a total estimated cost of not more than $30 million receiving federal funds, comprising less than 15% of the total estimated project costs.

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