At the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) we have made rural transit a priority, and with good reason. Currently, an estimated 40 percent of rural counties have no public transportation, and in many other rural areas, only limited service can be provided. Yet, rural residents rely heavily on public transit when it is available. That's why President Bush has proposed a 20 percent increase in funds to support rural transit in FY 2004.
The FTA also wants to make sure that its programs support common sense transit solutions, and that all transit agencies know how to make the most of available resources. Rural and smaller transit agencies have told us that the FTA's grant processes can be difficult to navigate, and we have listened to your concerns. The enclosed guidebook is specifically designed for small communities and rural transit providers. We hope you will agree that it is a user-friendly introduction to the variety of program options available for your communities.
This guidebook outlines who is eligible for each program, the State's role in the program, the contents of the grant application, requirements for managing the grant once it is secured, and the Federal requirements that all grantees, regardless of the type of program, must meet in order to qualify for funding. It also includes a Q and A section and a list of all of FTA's regional offices, where you can get practical advice and hands-on assistance.
We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine how best to address their unique transportation needs, and Secretary Mineta and I want to maximize your flexibility and provide tools that will help you do so. As a first step, we hope that this easy-to-use guidebook answers many of your questions about the FTA's programs and requirements. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact your FTA regional office. We are all eager to help you succeed in providing public transportation services that meet the needs in your community.
Jennifer L. Dorn