Funding Distribution & Program Focus
1. In FY 1999, funding for the Job Access/Reverse Commute Program is limited to $50 million. In light of funding constraints, what grant award strategy should be pursued? Should there be maximum or minimum grant sizes? Should grants vary by the size of the region, e.g., major areas with populations over 1 million, areas between 200,000- 1 million, areas between 50,0000 –200,000, non-urbanized rural areas?
2. Should grants to support local Job Access programs be made on an annual basis or on a multi-year basis covering several years worth of local activity? Annual multi-year financial grant commitments must be made subject to the availability of Congressional appropriations.
3. Should Job Access and Reverse Commute funding be considered as one program where applicants can elect to reserve a percentage of their funds for reverse commute services - not tied to welfare recipients or low income population? Or, should the two components be treated as separate programs operating independently?
4. What steps should FTA take to encourage a broad range of groups, not limited to its normal mass transit partners, to participate in this program? Eligibility Criteria
1. The legislation requires that all grants be subject to the terms and conditions of FTA’s Formula (Section 5307) Program such as the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, labor protections and others. In light of these requirements, what obstacles does this present for non-traditional grant recipients? What actions, e.g., receiving funding as grantee subrecipients, are possible to ensure the participation of non-traditional recipients in the program? 2. The legislation allows FTA to fund capital and operating costs and clearly is directed to the development of new and expanded Access to Jobs and Reverse Commute services. In addition, one of the factors for consideration in grant award criteria is the need for additional services. What activities and services should be included as eligible? Should any activities or services be specifically excluded? Welfare block grants (TANF & WtW) can be used to purchase transit passes for welfare recipients, certain former welfare recipients, and non- custodial parents. In addition, other DOT funds can be used to purchase transit passes. Should Job Access & Reverse Commute also be available to fund transit passes?
3. What criteria should be used for screening candidates? The legislation spells out eight (8) factors that must be considered in awarding grants (see program description). Do these factors need additional definition? How should they be weighted in the rating process? Are there other criteria that should be addressed? Certain populations suffer disproportionate unemployment rates and face unique transportation challenges. How should the Job Access/Reverse Commute Program be structured to meet these challenges? Planning and Evaluation
1. The Job Access/Reverse Commute Program provides funding for initiating programs whose long-term viability will depend upon coordinating services and programming traditional sources of funding. This will necessitate coordinating and integrating the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program with existing DOT, DHHS, DOL and HUD funding programs. What issues arise in achieving the blending of resources from several Federal programs? What incentives and assurances could be provided to facilitate this? 2. The legislation requires that MPOs select projects within urbanized areas with populations over 200,000 and that states select projects for urbanized areas with populations below 200,000, as well as rural areas. How should this selection process by MPOs and states take place, and what documentation of participation should be required to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in project selection and development? In particular, how should low income community representatives involved in developing plans? Should sign-offs be required? 3. The legislation has a number of planning requirements for access to Jobs Program/Reverse Commute Program. For example, applicants must document a regional transportation plan and any project must be developed by a coordinated Transportation/Human Services planning process. Should applicants address each requirement separately or together. What evidence of a collaborative decision making process at the local level among transportation, employment and other human service organizations would satisfy these requirements? 4. The legislation has a number of coordination requirements. Applicants must coordinate with the state agency that administers the state welfare program, existing transportation providers and affected transit grant recipients. What guidance should be given? How should this be documented?
5. The GAO must evaluate the effectiveness of this program every six months, while DOT must prepare an evaluation report within two years. What specific performance measures should DOT use in assessing the effectiveness of these programs? How could such data be obtained and reported?
[ Examples might include the additional jobs that became accessible with reasonable commute times, the number of new riders or new services, or some combination of the two, and area coverage by time period.]
6. What other comments or suggestions can you provide to ensure a successful Access to Jobs/Reverse Commute Program?
You may use the following E-MAIL address:[ "mailto[JA"] or;
You may FAX your comments to: (202) 366-3765 (Attention: Doug Birnie -- Job Access/Reverse Commute Program)
All comments received will be placed in the Federal Register Docket.