III. Grant Development/Award
A. General | B. Department of Labor (DOL) Certification |
| C. Transit Capital Assistance Urbanized Areas |
| D. Transit Capital Assistance Nonurbanized Areas | E. Capital Investment Grants |
| F. Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction - TIGGER |
1) Question: Can a transit agency combine all ARRA funds into a single grant application?
Answer: No. Each grant recipient must apply for a separate grant for each ARRA program under which they are allocated funds.
2) Question: Can a transit agency amend an existing FTA grant to add the ARRA funds?
Answer: No. FTA program funds cannot be commingled with ARRA funds. Each grant recipient must develop a separate grant for each ARRA program from which it seeks funds.
3) Question: When will FTA consider apportioned funds as "obligated?"
Answer: For the purposes of the withdrawal provision, FTA will consider funds obligated on the date of grant award by FTA.
4) Question: When executing my ARRA grant, I received a message asking for the rationale and purpose of the grant. Is this step required? And if so, how is the information going to be used?
Answer: Yes, we added these fields to TEAM in response to the requirements of Section 1512 before the proposed guidance from OMB came out. The categories under “purpose” are keyed to the purposes expressed in ARRA. The categories under “rationale” are keyed to factors that make the specific grant purposes appropriate for funding as an ARRA grant. FTA hoped by building these fields into TEAM to be able to pre-populate some of the fields in the 1512 report for grantees. The grantees should select the boxes that best fit the grant. We do not know at this time whether the information will be directly useful for 1512 reporting, but FTA expects to use the information for reporting and evaluating the impacts of the ARRA programs.
B. Department of Labor (DOL) Certification
1) Question: Is DOL certification required and can the process be streamlined?
Answer: Yes. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will need to certify grants awarded using ARRA funds. In accordance with DOL's guidelines, grants subject to a referral may require up to 60 days to complete (29 CFR 215.3). To streamline the process, DOL intends to certify ARRA program funds consistent with its procedures for certifying the current comparable FTA program. Accordingly, ARRA programs that follow the requirements of 49 U.S.C. section 5307 or 49 U.S.C. section 5309 will be referred out if the grant contains new project activities. Grants for like-kind equipment or replacements will no longer need to be referred out to the unions before certification. Furthermore, ARRA programs that follow the requirements of 49 U.S.C. section 5311 will be certified based on the special warranty provision including grants to Indian tribes. Additionally, grantees may reduce processing time by responding immediately to DOL’s requests related to your grants.
2) Question: When can ARRA grants be assigned official TEAM application numbers and be submitted for DOL review?
Answer: ARRA grants should be assigned an official number as soon as the budget is developed and project details are sufficient to make an eligibility determination. Departing from FTA's standard grant procedures, FTA will allow ARRA grants to be assigned a number and submitted for DOL review before the completion of in-house FTA reviews. Of course, all reviews must be satisfactorily completed before FTA can obligate any funds in a grant.
C. Transit Capital Assistance Urbanized Areas
1) Question: In UZAs with multiple direct FTA grant recipients, should the designated recipient notify FTA about the local allocation of funds?
Answer: Yes. Consistent with current practice under Section 5307, designated recipients in UZAs with multiple direct recipients should notify FTA, in writing, of the local allocation, or split of recovery funds.
2) Question: When will FTA require a supplemental agreement?
Answer: Consistent with current practice under Section 5307, a supplemental agreement will be required when a grant is awarded to a direct recipient in an urbanized area if that recipient is not the designated recipient.
3) Question: Can grantees in small urbanized areas (pop. 50,000-200,000) apply for funding directly from FTA, or will States be required to apply for funds in these areas in a single consolidated grant?
Answer: ARRA funds allocated to the Governor for small urbanized areas (pop. 50,000-200,000) are subject to the requirements of Section 5307 and will be administered consistent with current practice. FTA will not require a consolidated grant for the urbanized areas of a State with populations less than 200,000. Once a Governor allocates recovery formula funds to each urbanized area between 50,000 and 200,000 in population (in accordance with Section 5307), then FTA will make grants directly to recipients in those areas.
4) Question: Previous Question # 4 was a duplicate of the preceding question.
5) Question: Will the section 5307 amounts include section 5340 funds?
Answer: Yes. The legislation identified 10% of the transit capital assistance funds to be distributed according to the section 5340 Growing States and High Density States formulas. These amounts are included in the amounts apportioned to the UZAs.
6) Question: Will the 1% for transit enhancements apply to ARRA funds administered under section 5307 for urbanized areas over 200,000 in population?
Answer: Yes, UZAs over 200,000 must spend 1 % of the area’s Transit Capital Assistance funds on transit enhancements; however, only capital transit enhancement projects can be funded using ARRA funding.
7) Question: Will grantees be required to check the security static button in TEAM?
Answer: Yes. Consistent with the Section 5307 requirement, grantees must check the security static button in TEAM to confirm that the grantee will expend one percent or more of the Transit Capital Assistance funds for security purposes or that spending the one percent is not necessary at that time.
8) Question: Will Section 5307 transfer rules apply?
Answer: Yes, the transfer provisions of Section 5336(f) are applicable. (1) Funds can be transferred from small urbanized areas (under the Governor's apportionment) to nonurbanized areas after consultation with local officials and public transportation operators in each area that will lose the amount apportioned. (2) Funds from large urbanized areas may be transferred by the designated recipient to small urbanized areas. (3) The Governor may also use funds apportioned to small urbanized areas throughout the State at the beginning of the 90 day period before the funds lapse (available 90 days after ARRA Transit Capital Assistance allocations are published in the Federal Register).
9) Question: If Section 5307 funds can be transferred in accordance with 5336(f), what is the relationship with the reallocation process? Will the new grantee receive additional time to contract or spend resources?
Answer: No - funds must be obligated within the applicable timeframe.
10) Question: Will the section 5307 apportionment for a small urbanized area that qualifies for Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) formula funding, in FY 2009, include STIC funds?
Answer: No, the language in the ARRA directs that the formula not include 49 U.S.C. § 5307 (i)(1) and (j) that provide for a one percent takedown for STICs and the STIC formula.
11) Question: Since ADA services are an eligible capital activity, will this be limited to 10% of an urbanized area's ARRA funding?
Answer: Yes. The 10 percent limitation would apply. Section 5302(a)(1)(I) explicitly defines nonfixed route ADA paratransit as an eligible capital expense but only to the extent that the amount does not exceed 10% of the recipients annual formula apportionments under Section 5307 and 5311.
12) Question: Since 50 percent of the funds allocated to an area must be obligated by September 1, 2009, how is the term "Area" defined?
Answer: There are two definitions of “area”: First, an “area” is the urbanized area (UZA) for UZA’s over 200,000 in population; and, second, “area” is the State for UZA’s under the Governor’s apportionment for urbanized areas between 50,000 and 200,000 in population and nonurbanized areas.
13) Question: Will transit properties be able to compete for funds that are “reallocated” after September 1, 2009, directly with FTA or within a region of FTA?
Answer: ARRA included apportionment tables for the $5.4 billion provided to urbanized areas through the Section 5307 program; $765.8 million provided to 54 states and territories for non-urbanized areas through the Section 5311 program; and $742.5 million provided to urbanized areas through the Section 5309 Fixed Guideway Modernization program. Fifty percent of each of these apportionments was required to be obligated by September 1, 2009, and 100 percent by March 5, 2010, to avoid losing the balance of that amount remaining unobligated. All areas met the September 1 and March 5 deadlines; therefore, no funds were made available for redistribution.
14) Question: If unobligated funds in an area have to be re-allocated, will they be re-allocated within the UZA first? Who makes this decision?
Answer: Before the deadlines, all areas were able to make decisions allocating funds apportioned to the area to projects ready for obligation, therefore no unobligated funds were made available for redistribution by FTA. Had any area failed to obligate all its apportioned funds, by statute, those funds would not have been available for redistribution to the same area that lost them.
15) Question: Should the ARRA grants be a FY 2008-09 or FY 2009-10 in TEAM?
Answer: ARRA funds are FY 2009.
16) Question: Can you use ARRA funding to supplement an existing FTA section 5307 formula grant for a bus replacement by using a separate ARRA grant that increases the total funds?
Answer: Yes, you may supplement an existing FTA 5307 formula grant for a bus replacement by using ARRA funds. However, ARRA funds must be applied for in a separate grant.
D. Transit Capital Assistance Nonurbanized Areas
1) Question: Will Section 5311 transfer rules apply?
Answer: Yes, in accordance with 5336(f)(2), the Governor may transfer formula funds apportioned to non-urbanized areas to supplement amounts apportioned to small urbanized areas under the Governor’s apportionment.
2) Question: Will FTA approve ARRA nonurbanized formula grants that include funds in program reserve (Category C)?
Answer: No. Given the purposes of the ARRA to fund projects that are ready to go in order to get money into the economy quickly, FTA will not approve grants that set aside funds for projects to be determined later. Category C is inconsistent with the purposes of the ARRA and with the reporting requirements that require grantees to report on the status of implementation at the project level.
3) Question: Will FTA approve ARRA nonurbanized formula grants with programs of projects that include projects in Category B, where projects have been identified, but have not yet met all requirements to be eligible to draw-down funds?
Answer: States should ordinarily include only projects in Category A (ready to go). FTA will allow projects in Category B only if the State can show that all outstanding issues can be promptly resolved and that the projects are essentially ready to implement shortly after grant award.
4) Question: Are states required to use 15% of formula funds allocated to non-urbanized areas for intercity bus?
Answer: States must use at least 15% of ARRA formula funds allocated to non-urbanized areas for intercity bus services. However, consistent with Section 5311 requirements, States can certify that intercity bus needs have been met after consultation.
5) Question: Can States use up to 15% of funds for program administration?
Answer: Yes, States may use up to 15% of formula funds allocated under the requirements of Section 5311 to cover State administrative expenses, at 100% Federal share.
E. Capital Investment Grants
1) Question: How will FTA distribute major capital investment funding provided by the ARRA legislation?
Answer: ARRA states that funding priority shall be given to New Starts and Small Starts projects currently in construction (which FTA interprets as projects with a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) or Project Construction Grant Agreement (PCGA)) or to projects able to obligate funds within 150 days of enactment. FTA is still determining how the ARRA funding will be distributed to New and Small Starts projects. The Act specifies that applicable Chapter 53 requirements apply. This would include the federal/local share provisions; it also means that only projects that have received acceptable project ratings in the New or Small Starts process are eligible for the funding.
2) Question: Will projects with existing FFGAs or PCGAs that receive ARRA funds still receive their FY09 apportionments?
Answer: FTA will provide projects with their FY09 apportionments as identified in the existing FFGAs or PCGAs, to the extent appropriated by Congress.
F. Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction - TIGGER
1) Question: What is the aim of the TIGGER Program and how much funding is available?
Answer: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ( ARRA) provided $100 million to be distributed as discretionary grants to public transit agencies for capital investments that will assist in reducing the energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions of public transportation systems.
2) Question: Who is eligible to receive TIGGER grants?
Answer: Only U.S. transit agencies are eligible to receive TIGGER grants. A consolidated proposal with more than one project may be submitted by a transit agency, or an organization on behalf of more than one transit agency, such as a designated recipient, Metropolitan Planning Organization, State Transit Association, or State Departments of Transportation. Grants will be made for particular projects directly to public transportation agencies.
3) Question: What projects may be proposed?
Answer: Projects from U.S. transit agencies that either reduce energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions through a capital investment will be evaluated.
4) Question: How is capital investment being defined for the TIGGER Program?
Answer: For the purposes of the TIGGER project, a capital investment is defined as any eligible expense defined in 49 U.S.C. 5302(a) (1) that will assist in the reduction of the energy consumption of a public transportation system or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of a public transportation system. This excludes some elements of the statutory definition of a capital project, such as fleet expansion or fixed guideway extensions because these types of projects would increase transit agency energy consumption.
5) Question: In general, what types of projects are eligible under the TIGGER Program?
Answer: While FTA urges transit agencies to be innovative in their solutions to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, eligible projects may include, but are not limited to the following: replacement of existing vehicles with more energy-efficient vehicles, repowering existing vehicles with more energy-efficient propulsion, incorporation of wayside energy storage for captured regenerated energy in rail transit systems, and extensions to catenary fixed guideway systems that result in reduced energy consumption.
6) Question: What is the deadline for submitting TIGGER proposals?
Answer: May 22, 2009 was the deadline for accepting proposals for FTA’s Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program. Under this program, $100 million in federal funding is made available to transit agencies for projects that will reduce either energy consumption, greenhouse gases, or both. FTA received 224 applications for 561 projects with a total value of over $2 billion by the May 22, 2009 deadline. On October 13, 2009, FTA published a Federal Register Notice announcing the selection of 43 projects to receive the $100 million available in funding.
7) Question: Is any local match required to participate in the TIGGER Program?
Answer: No, there is no local match requirement for the TIGGER Program. The Federal funding share for TIGGER Program grants is 100%. Transit agencies may propose a lower Federal share.
8) Question: What are the upper and lower limits of a total project(s) cost(s), if any?
Answer: Each submitted proposal must request a minimum of $2,000,000. FTA will allow transit agencies to apply together to reach this threshold. Some projects within a proposal may be funded at less than $2,000,000. The maximum grant amount is $25,000,000.
9) Question: Can a TIGGER project be combined with another Federally-funded project of relevance or with other ARRA funds?
Answer: Yes. In this case the proposal must provide project measurement information for both criteria.
10) Question: Can projects be considered under both energy consumption reduction and greenhouse gas reduction criteria?
Answer: Yes. In this case the proposal must provide project measurement information for both criteria.
11) Question: What is included in energy consumption?
Answer: Energy consumption is energy purchased directly by the public transportation system. It includes both revenue and non revenue operations directly operated by the agency, but not energy used for purchased services. It includes fuel used by an agency to generate energy, but not energy generated by an agency. As an example, a diesel generator operated by an agency would count the diesel used by the generator but not the electricity produced by the generator.
12) Question: How does a transit agency receive credit for sustainable energy sources such as adding solar panels to the roof of an existing facility or adding windmills to storage yard?
Answer: These types of projects would reduce the energy consumption of an agency if they are used to replace energy currently purchased from a third party since energy produced on site by wind or solar (or some other sustainable method, such as geothermal) is not counted as part of a transit agency’s energy consumption.
13) Question: Should a transit agency include the energy used in administrative buildings when calculating the agency’s total energy usage?
14) Question: Are there tools available to help calculate energy savings and conversions?
Answer: The Center for Transportation Analysis of Oakridge National Laboratory of the Department of Energy provides information and links on how to convert typical energy units to BTUs in the Transportation Energy Data Book.
FTA will also post a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on its webpage to help with calculations.
15) Question: Can a proposal include a project for a capital project that will be operated by a third-party (e.g., a bus purchase for contracted operations)?
Answer: Yes, if the agency can demonstrate that the capital investment will result in energy consumption reductions directly to the agency (e.g., the agency also supplies diesel fuel for the operations).
16) Question: Can a proposal request funding for the incremental cost of including energy consumption reduction as part of a capital investment (e.g., the agency intends to use ARRA funds to purchase 10 diesel buses – the project will request funds for the incremental costs of purchasing 10 hybrid-electric buses instead)?
17) Question: What are greenhouse gases?
Answer: Greenhouse Gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere expressed in metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The principal greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere because of human activities are: Carbon Dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); Nitrous Oxide (N2O); and Fluorinated Gases (Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride).
18) Question: What greenhouse gases are considered to be emitted by a public transportation agency?
Answer: Only those greenhouse gas emissions produced by the transit agency, otherwise known as direct emissions will be evaluated within the TIGGER Program. Direct Emissions include:
- Stationary combustion from boilers and furnaces
- Mobile combustion in revenue and non-revenue vehicles operated by the agency
- Physical or chemical processes (generally not applicable for transit agencies)
- Fugitive sources such as methane leaks from refueling facilities, or leakage of Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) from transformers or Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from air conditioning equipment
19) Question: When calculating greenhouse gas emissions for my transit agency, do we include green house gas emissions for the generation of electricity purchased from an off-site power utility?
Answer: No, for the purposes of the TIGGER Program, FTA is not requesting information on greenhouse gas emissions generated by offsite power utilities as these are considered indirect emissions.
20) Question: Are there tools available to help calculate greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 equivalencies?
Answer: The Environmental Protection Agency provides information and a calculator on greenhouse gas conversions.
FTA will also post a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on its webpage to help with calculations.
21) Question: What are the evaluation criteria of the TIGGER Program?
Answer: Projects may be considered under either or both energy consumption reduction and greenhouse gas emission reduction criteria.
Energy Consumption Reduction Criteria: Total energy savings that are projected to result from the project and projected energy savings of the project as a percentage of the total energy usage of the public transit agency.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Criterion: Total greenhouse gas reductions that are projected to result from the project.
Other Criteria common to all projects: Return on Investment, whether the project is ready to implement, the capacity of the applicant, the degree of innovation in a project, and the national applicability of a project.
22) Question: Who will be evaluating the proposals for the TIGGER Program?
Answer: The TIGGER evaluation team will be comprised of individuals from FTA, the Department of Energy, and others on an as needed basis.
23) Question: Does the TIGGER Program trigger the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review?
Answer: Yes, because FTA would be providing federal funding, FTA and the transit agency grant recipient must comply with all environmental requirements including, but not limited to, NEPA, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act. FTA does not award funds in a grant until a Categorical Exclusion determination, Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), or Record of Decision (ROD) has been signed.
Because of the limited timeframe for completion of NEPA, Transit Agencies should consider proposing energy or greenhouse gas reduction projects that qualify for a categorical exclusion or are close to obtaining a FONSI or ROD. For further information on NEPA and ARRA, see FTA’s regularly-updated ARRA webpage on Section III. Grant Development/Award, Section F.
24) Question: Where is the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet mentioned in Appendix E of the Federal Register Notice that may be used to estimate energy or greenhouse gas reduction?
Answer: The Excel file is at the following link: TIGGER Calculator to Complete Appendix A of NOFA (Excel)
25) Question: How do applicants complete the tables referenced in Appendix E of FTA’s March 24, 2009 Federal Register Notice of Availability of Fiscal Year 2009 Funding for Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Grants?
Answer: Applicants need to download the Excel file at the following link: TIGGER Calculator to Complete Appendix A of NOFA (Excel)
26) Question: Can a supplier or manufacturer submit an application on behalf of a transit agency?
Answer: No, applications can only be received from public transportation agencies, or applications may be submitted on behalf of public transportation agencies by designated recipients, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, State Transit Associations, Transportation Management Associations, or State Departments of Transportation. Grant awards will be made for particular projects directly to public transportation agencies.
27) Question: What is the definition of a public transportation agency? Does a provider, who receives funds from the Section 5310 Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities program, meet the definition of a public transportation agency?
Answer: A public transportation agency is a publicly-owned operator of public transportation eligible to receive Federal assistance under chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code. If a provider receiving Section 5310 through a state is a local governmental authority, then it meets the definition of a public transportation agency.
28) Question: How long should a proposal be?
Answer: Proposals should be no longer than 30 pages, including all attachments and appendices. To ensure uniformity and improve ease of review, preferred font type and size is Times New Roman 12.
29) Question: Can TIGGER funds be used for system expansions which reduce overall energy or greenhouse emissions from the transit property?
Answer: No. The Federal Register Notice of 3/24/09 states: “Eligible expenses must meet the following criteria: (1) The expense must be an eligible capital expense as defined under 49 U.S.C. 5302(a)(1); and (2) The project will assist in the reduction of the energy consumption of a public transportation system or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of a public transportation system. This excludes some elements of the statutory definition of a capital project, such as fleet expansion or fixed guideway extensions because these types of projects would increase transit agency energy consumption.”
30) Question: It is very difficult to measure before/after energy use for a proposed project. Are alternative estimates to actual measurement acceptable?
Answer: The applicant is required to provide sufficient data, analyses, and documentation to support the energy savings or greenhouse gas reductions claimed in the application. The supporting documentation and data should allow one of ordinary skill in the art of energy savings or greenhouse gas reductions analyses to reproduce and/or substantiate the claims in the application.
31) Question: How does the selection process for my TIGGER application work?
Answer: Proposals for the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) were due on May 22, 2009. FTA received 224 applications for 561 projects with a total value of over $2 billion by the May 22, 2009 deadline. On October 13, 2009, FTA published a Federal Register Notice announcing the selection of 43 projects to receive the $100 million available in funding.
A wide variety of projects were proposed including:
- Bus projects such as: hybrid-electric buses, bus refurbishment, battery-powered buses, buses constructed from composite materials, plug-in hybrids, CNG fueling stations, and hydrogen fueling stations;
- Rail projects such as: locomotive replacement, and conversion to diesel-electric locomotives;
- Ferry projects; and
- Facility projects for stations, bus facilities and shelters include: solar and wind power generation; cooling and heating system improvements; lighting upgrades; geothermal heating, station remodeling, LEED certification; new furnaces; and, new roofs, insulation, windows, and doors.
32) Question: Does the TIP/STIP need to be amended for the project in order for it to even be considered or can TIP/STIP be amended anytime up to award date?
Answer: The project must have a TIP/STIP approval before it can be awarded. However, the project does not have to have TIP/STIP signoff to be considered for award.