Preface

The New Start project profiles presented in this Appendix provide background information supporting the Department of Transportation's New Start funding recommendations for FY 2001. The Department's funding recommendations are being provided to the Congress pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5309(o)(1) (formerly Section 3(j) of the Federal Transit Act) The funding recommendations are based in part on the decision criteria defined in 49 U.S.C. 5309(e) (formerly Section 3(i)(1) of the Federal Transit Act).

Under 49 U.S.C. 5309(e), discretionary capital grants and loans for the construction of a new fixed guideway system or the extension of an existing system may be made only if the Secretary determines that the proposed project is:

  1. based on the results of an alternatives analysis and preliminary engineering;
  2. justified based on a comprehensive review of its mobility improvements, environmental benefits, cost effectiveness, and operating efficiencies; and
  3. supported by an acceptable degree of local financial commitment, including evidence of stable and dependable funding sources to construct, maintain, and operate the system or extension.

The 49 U.S.C. 5309(e) criteria provide a basis for selecting, from among the eligible projects, those which are the most worthy of Federal funds. To this end, the New Start project profiles describe the fixed guideway projects that are most advanced, and evaluate them in terms of the 5309(e) criteria.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) leaves prior Federal law and policy largely intact, including the new starts criteria and the multiple-measure method of project evaluation. Perhaps the most significant change to the project evaluation process introduced by TEA-21 is the requirement to establish summary ratings for each proposed project. Consistent with Section 5309(e)(6), summary ratings of "highly recommended", "recommended", or "not recommended" are assigned to each proposed project, based on the results of the review and evaluation of each of the criteria for project justification and local financial commitment.

This Annual Report on New Starts included profiles for each proposed project or study undergoing Final Design and Preliminary Engineering. In addition, profiles have been prepared for projects that are under construction if additional funds are needed in FY 2000 to fulfill Full Funding Grant Agreements.

In general, the profiles for projects in Final Design and Preliminary Engineering include five sections. These include:

  1. Description: The description section briefly describes a project's physical characteristics and presents the latest estimates of cost and ridership. Unless otherwise noted, cost estimates are expressed in escalated (year of construction) dollars. This section includes a summary description of key project elements. This section also includes the summary rating of "highly recommended", "recommended", or "not recommended" assigned to the proposed project, as well as the overall rating for project justification and local financial commitment.
  2. Status: This section identifies where the project is in the major investment planning and project development process. It indicates, for example, whether alternatives analysis (or a major investment study) and preliminary engineering have been completed. If not, it indicates when current studies are expected to be completed. This section also cites relevant statutory requirements.
  3. Evaluation: This section presents an evaluation of the project's merit based on the criteria cited in 49 U.S.C. 5309(e), and updated in Federal Register Notices on December 19, 1996 and November 12, 1997 (documented in Appendix C). Ratings and data are reported for the following criteria: mobility improvements; environmental benefits, operating efficiencies, cost effectiveness. This section also includes FTA's rating of the project in terms of transit-supportive existing land use and future patterns.
  4. Local Financial Commitment: This section reports the proposed non-Section 5309 share of total project capital costs, and provides FTA's ratings of the following: the stability and reliability of the capital financing plan; and, the stability and reliability of the operating financing plan.
  5. Other Factors (Optional): Other rating factors which may be useful in identifying the most meritorious projects are described in this section. This optional section highlights projects where local officials have demonstrated community support for transit by means of commitments to supportive land use, economic development, and transportation policies.

The profiles for projects covered by Full Funding Grant Agreements include the description and status sections only, since a decision to fund the project has already been reached.

How the Ratings were Developed

As part of the normal system planning and project development process, local agencies develop the information that FTA uses to assess projects in terms of project evaluation and local financial commitment. The specific information used for these evaluations is outlined below.

Project Evaluation and Ratings

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) greatly broadened the criteria to evaluate new start projects. The Section 5309 New Starts criteria were updated in Federal Register Notices on December 19, 1996 and November 12, 1997. TEA-21 leaves prior Federal law and policy largely intact, including the new starts criteria and the multiple-measure method of project evaluation. This year's evaluations and ratings address the full range of New Starts criteria, including: mobility improvements; environmental benefits, operating efficiencies, cost effectiveness, transit-supportive existing land use and future patterns, local financial commitment, and other factors.

In September 1997, the Federal Transit Administration's Office of Planning and the Office of Budget and Policy released the Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. In October 1998, FTA issued an Addendum to the Technical Guidance to further support local agencies in the completion of the criteria. In July 1999, FTA issued a revised and comprehensive Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. In addition, FTA has have offered national workshops throughout 1998 and 1999 to offer technical assistance.

As noted above, FTA evaluates proposed new start projects against the full range of criteria for both project justification and local financial commitment, using a multiple-measure method. In reporting project profiles for this FY 2001 report, some local agencies were not able to report all of the new starts criteria at this time. In some cases, previous planning analyses may not have included estimation of data for the proposed New Start, the No-Build, and the TSM alternative which are required as inputs to calculate measures of mobility improvements, environmental benefits, operating efficiencies, and cost effectiveness. Each of these cases is discussed in the specific project profiles, and an N/A is reported to indicate that data are not available at this time.

For each of the project justification criteria (mobility improvements; environmental benefits, operating efficiencies, cost effectiveness, land use), the proposed project is evaluated against both a No-Build and TSM alternative. For each proposed project, FTA assigns a rating of "high", "medium-high", "medium", "low-medium", or "low" for each of the five criteria, with "other factors" considered as appropriate. Similar ratings are assigned for the three factors used to evaluate local financial commitment, including the non-Section 5309 share, the capital financing plan, and the operating financing plan. Consistent with Section 5309(e)(6), summary ratings of "highly recommended", "recommended", or "not recommended" are assigned to each proposed project, based on the results of the review and evaluation of each of the criteria for project justification and local financial commitment. To assign these summary ratings, the individual ratings for each of the project justification criteria and financial rating factors are combined into overall "project justification" and "finance" ratings, which in turn are combined to produce the summary rating for the project.

In evaluating the project justification criteria, FTA gives primary consideration to the measures of transit supportive land use, cost effectiveness, and mobility improvements to arrive at the combined "project justification" rating. For local financial commitment, the measures of the proposed non-Section 5309 share of capital costs and the strength of the capital and operating financing plans are the primary factors in determining the combined "finance" rating.

For a proposed project to be rated as "recommended", it must be rated at least "medium" in terms of both project justification and finance. To be "highly recommended", a proposed project must be rated higher than "medium" for both project justification and finance. Proposed projects not rated at least "medium" in both project justification and finance will be rated as "not recommended".

It is important to note that project evaluation is an ongoing process. The project ratings contained in this report are based on project information available through November 1999. As proposed new starts proceed through the project development process, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

U.S. Department of Transportation regulations currently under development will specify FTA’s approach to project evaluation and assignment of summary ratings. In the absence of a Final Rule, however, FTA must still use the principles established by TEA-21 to evaluate proposed new starts and assign project ratings for FY 2001. Therefore, the project ratings contained in this report reflect an application of FTA’s existing project evaluation process, as published in the Federal Register on December 19, 1996 and amended on November 12, 1997 (61 FR 67093-106 and 62 FT 60756-58), and modified to account for the changes made by TEA-21.

Section 5309 New Starts Criteria

A brief description of the Section 5309 New Starts criteria applied in project evaluation follows.

Mobility Improvements

The first measure, Annual Travel Time Savings, is defined as the projected aggregate travel time savings in the forecast year anticipated from the New Start compared to both the No-Build and TSM alternatives. The measure is expressed as the annual hours of projected travel time savings for the study area.

The second measure reflects the Absolute Number of Low-Income Households Located Within ½ Mile of "Boarding Points" Associated with the New Investment or System. Low income is defined as the number or households below the poverty level. This measure is reported for stations or stops directly related to the proposed fixed guideway project or system

Environmental Benefits

The first measure is the Change in Criteria Pollutant Emissions and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Forecast Year, comparing the New Start to the No-Build and TSM alternatives. The measure will be expressed as the change in the number of tons of emissions for carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC) or hydrocarbons (HC), particulate matter (PM10), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

Energy consumption is measured as the Net Change in the Forecast Year in the Regional Consumption of British Thermal Units (BTU), comparing the New Start to the no-build and TSM alternatives.

The third measure includes the Current Regional Designation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Operating Efficiencies

The sole measure for this criterion reports the Change in Operating Cost per Passenger-Mile in the Forecast Year, comparing the New Start to the No-Build and TSM alternatives. This measure, expressed in terms of absolute dollar value, is to address the impact on operating efficiencies for the entire regional transit system.

Cost-Effectiveness

The previously applied "cost per new rider" index has been replaced by a revised measure, the Incremental Change in Total Capital and Operating Cost per Incremental Passenger in the Forecast Year. The index is based on the annualized total (including Federal and local) capital investment and operating cost divided by the forecast change in annual transit system ridership, comparing the New Start to the No-Build and TSM alternatives. The new cost-per-incremental rider measure has been revised from the previously applied index in that it no longer subtracts the value of travel time savings from annualized incremental costs (travel time savings are now reported separately under mobility improvements).

Transit Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Assessment of land use is a new criteria and measure, introduced in the spirit of ISTEA and consistent with FTA initiatives to encourage transit supportive land use and development. The measure, expressed in terms of a combined rating of "high," "medium/high", "medium", "low/medium", or "low", addresses the degree to which existing development patterns and local land use policies are likely to foster transit supportive land use. The combined rating considers each of the following factors: existing land use; containment of sprawl; transit-supportive corridor policies; supportive zoning regulations; tools to implement land use policies; and, performance of land use policies. The FY 2001 evaluations were supported by reviews conducted by FTA's contractors: Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., Cambridge Systematics, Inc, and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Local Financial Commitment

FTA's evaluation of the local financial commitment to a proposed project focuses on the proposed non-Section 5309 share of project costs, the strength of the proposed capital financing plan, and the stability and reliability of the operating financing plan. The FY 2001 evaluations were supported by reviews conducted by FTA's contractors: Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., KPMG Peat Marwick, Inc., and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Non-Section 5309 share refers to the percentage of capital costs to be met with non-Federal funding, particularly non-Section 5309 New Starts funding, and includes both the local match required by Federal law and any capital "overmatch." Overmatch is accounted for in the rating process because it reduces the required Federal commitment, thus leveraging limited Federal funds, and because it indicates a strong local commitment to the project. Previous non-Federal funding support for other significant fixed guideway systems implemented in the area is also considered. The use of flexible funds and innovative financing techniques is noted, where appropriate.

The evaluation of each project's proposed capital financing plan takes two principal forms. First, the plan is reviewed to determine the stability and reliability of each proposed source of local match. This includes a review of inter-governmental grants, tax sources, and debt obligations. Each revenue source is reviewed for availability within the project timetable. Second, the financing plan is evaluated to determine if adequate provisions have been made to cover unanticipated cost overruns. The strength of the capital finance plan is rated "high," "medium/high", "medium", "low/medium", or "low". The indicators used to assign these ratings are further explained in Table A-1.

The third component of the financial rating is an assessment of the ability of the local transit agency to fund operation of the system as planned once the guideway project is built. This rating focuses on the operating revenue base and its ability to expand to meet the incremental operating costs associated with a new fixed guideway investment and any other new services and facilities. The strength of the operating finance plan is rated "high," "medium/high", "medium", "low/medium", or "low". The indicators used to assign these ratings are further explained in Table A-2.

Other Factors (Optional)

This criterion has traditionally been included as an option to provide an opportunity to identify any additional factors which may be relevant to local and national priorities and relevant to the success of the project. These may include a variety of factors including: the degree to which local policies and institutions are in place (local planning, programming, parking policies; project management experience and capabilities; and, other local initiatives such as public-private partnerships, etc.). These additional factors may provide FTA with an added assessment of the likelihood of the feasibility of a successful transit investment, measured against regional considerations.

Table A-1
Financial Ratings: Capital Financing Commitments

Final Design High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in very sound financial condition. Non-Section 5309 New Starts Funds are committed and available to fund the project. The applicant has the fiscal capability to construct the project and has sufficient funds to cover the entire Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of the overall undertaking, including provision for contingent cost overruns, without exhausting such capacity.

Medium-High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in sound financial condition. Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds are committed to the project, yet funds may not be available. The applicant has the fiscal capacity to construct the project and has sufficient funds to cover the entire Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of the overall undertaking, including provision for contingent cost overruns.

Medium

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The majority of Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds are committed to the project. However, a significant portion of the Non-Section 5309 New Starts funding either does not yet exist or exists but is not yet committed to the project. It is highly likely that sufficient funds will be committed to cover the entire Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of the overall undertaking, including provision for contingent cost overruns.

Low-Medium

Sponsoring agency is in sound financial condition. The applicant may have identified potential sources of Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds to construct the project. However, the majority of Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds have not been committed to cover the Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of project costs, including the provision for contingent cost overruns, and assumes some local funding which does not yet exist.

Low

The sponsoring agency is not in sound financial condition. The applicant has not yet identified nor committed sufficient funding to cover the Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of project costs.

Preliminary Engineering High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in very sound financial condition. Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds are identified and committed to fund the project, but a portion of the funds may not be available. Sufficient funds to cover the Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of the overall undertaking, including provision for contingent cost overruns, have been committed.

Medium-High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in sound financial condition. The applicant has identified and committed sufficient funds to cover the majority of the Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of the overall undertaking, including provision for contingent cost overruns.

Medium

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted a realistic capital finance plan that adequately covers projected local capital costs. Some portion of funding to cover the Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of project costs has been committed, but a significant portion of local funding either does not yet exist or exists but is not yet committed to the project.

Low-Medium

Sponsoring agency may be in sound financial condition, with some correctable deficiencies. The applicant has not yet adopted a realistic capital finance plan that adequately covers projected local capital costs. Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds are not committed and proposed new sources of funding are not available to fund the construction of the project.

Low

Sponsoring agency is not considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted a capital finance plan that FTA considers inadequate or infeasible. Non-Section 5309 New Starts funds have not been identified to finance construction of the project.

Table A-2
Financial Ratings: Stable and Reliable Operating Revenue

Final Design High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in very sound financial condition. Ample dedicated transit funding sources are committed and available and there is a good history of general appropriations from State or local government to provide a balanced budget for the transit system. Existing transit vehicles and facilities have been well maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment in the system. The applicant has demonstrated the financial capacity to operate and maintain the proposed new starts project, other programmed projects, and the existing regional transit system.

Medium-High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in sound financial condition. Demonstrates that funding for operating an expanded transit system is committed. Existing transit facilities have been well maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment in the system. Financial projections indicate adequate financial capacity to operate an expanded transit system.

Medium

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted a realistic operating finance plan that adequately covers projected operating costs for the existing and proposed transit system expansion. Demonstrates that funding for operating an expanded transit system is identified and will likely be committed. Existing facilities are adequately maintained. Financial projections indicate adequate financial capacity to operate an expanded transit system.

Low-Medium

Sponsoring agency may be in sound financial condition, with some correctable deficiencies. The applicant has not yet adopted a realistic operating finance plan that adequately covers projected operating costs, and potential sources of operating funds have not been committed. Current sources of local funding are not sufficient to operate the proposed system expansion and operate and maintain the current transit system.

Low

Sponsoring agency is not considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted an operating finance plan that FTA considers inadequate or infeasible. Local funding does not generate sufficient revenue to operate and maintain the current transit system, and no new sources have been identified or committed to finance an expanded public transit system. Local transit system operating assistance is not reliable, resulting in deferred capital replacement and/or routine maintenance and/or service reductions.

Preliminary Engineering High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in very sound financial condition. Ample dedicated transit funding sources are committed and available and there is a good history of general appropriations from State or local government to provide a balanced budget for the transit system. Existing transit vehicles and facilities have been well maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment in the system. The applicant has demonstrated the financial capacity to operate and maintain the proposed new starts project, other programmed projects, and the existing regional transit system.

Medium-High

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in sound financial condition. Demonstrates that funding for operating an expanded transit system is committed. Existing transit facilities have been well maintained and replaced through continuing reinvestment in the system. Financial projections indicate adequate financial capacity to operate an expanded transit system.

Medium

Sponsoring agency is considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted a realistic operating finance plan that adequately covers projected operating costs for the existing and proposed transit system expansion. Demonstrates that funding for operating an expanded transit system is identified and will likely be committed. Existing facilities are adequately maintained. Financial projections indicate adequate financial capacity to operate an expanded transit system.

Low-Medium

Sponsoring agency may be in sound financial condition, with some correctable deficiencies. The applicant has not yet adopted a realistic operating finance plan that adequately covers projected operating costs, and potential sources of operating funds have not been committed. Current sources of local funding are not sufficient to operate the proposed system expansion and operate and maintain the current transit system.

Low

Sponsoring agency is not considered to be in reasonably sound financial condition. The applicant has adopted an operating finance plan that FTA considers inadequate or infeasible. Local funding does not generate sufficient revenue to operate and maintain the current transit system, and no new sources have been identified or committed to finance an expanded public transit system. Local transit system operating assistance is not reliable, resulting in deferred capital replacement and/or routine maintenance and/or service reductions.

Table A-3
Land Use Assessment Ratings
Assessment of Transit Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

1. Existing Land Use
Preliminary Engineering and Final Design High

Current population and employment levels, presence of high trip generators and pedestrian-friendly development in the corridor are sufficient to support a major transit investment.

Medium

Current population and employment levels, presence of high trip generators and pedestrian-friendly development in the corridor are only marginally supportive of a major transit investment. Projected levels of growth must be realized.

Low

Current and projected population and employment levels, high trip generators and pedestrian-friendly development are not sufficient to support a major transit investment.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Existing corridor and station area development;
  • Existing corridor and station area development character; and
  • Existing corridor and station area parking supply and existing regional parking policies.
2. Containment of Sprawl
Preliminary Engineering and Final Design High

Adopted and enforceable urban containment and growth management policies are in place. Existing and planned densities and market trends are strongly compatible with transit.

Medium

Significant progress has been made toward implementing urban containment and growth management policies. Existing and/or planned densities and market trends are moderately compatible with transit.

Low

Limited consideration has been given to implementing urban containment and growth management policies. Existing and/or planned densities and market trends are minimally or not supportive of transit.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Planned density and market trends for development within corridor and region; and
  • Growth management policies.
3. Transit Supportive Corridor Policies
Preliminary Engineering and Final Design High

A detailed corridor plan and related policies which encourage and facilitate transit supportive development have been adopted in the proposed major transit investment corridor. Private/institutional plans and initiatives are consistent with public plan and policies for transit supportive land use.

Medium

Significant progress has been made toward completing a corridor plan and implementing related policies which encourage and facilitate transit supportive development in the proposed major transit investment corridor. Private/institutional plans and initiatives may complement the public plan and policies.

Low

Limited progress, to date, toward preparing and adopting a corridor plan and implementing related policies which encourage and facilitate transit supportive development in the proposed major transit investment corridor. Private/institutional plans and initiatives supportive of transit supportive land use are absent.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Public plans and policies and private/institutional initiatives to increase station area development;
  • Public plans and policies and private/institutional initiatives to enhance transit-friendly character of station area development; and
  • Parking policies.
4. Supportive Zoning Regulations Near Transit Stations
Preliminary Engineering High

Significant progress is being made toward preparing and adopting station area plans and related zoning.

Medium

Initial efforts have begun to prepare station area plans and relating zoning.

Low

Limited consideration has been given to preparing station area plans and related zoning.

Final Design High

Detailed station area plans and related local zoning and land use regulations have been adopted.

Medium

Significant progress is being made toward preparing and adopting station area plans and relating zoning.

Low

No more than initial efforts have begun to prepare station area plans and relating zoning.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Zoning ordinances that support increased development density in transit station areas;
  • Zoning ordinances that enhance transit-oriented character of station area development; and
  • Zoning allowances for reduced parking and traffic mitigation.
5. Tools to Implement Land Use Policies
Preliminary Engineering High

Local capital improvement programs and development initiatives have been adopted to implement local land use policies and which leverage the Federal Investment in the proposed major transit corridor. Private/institutional initiatives are strongly supportive.

Medium

Efforts to prepare local capital improvement programs and development initiatives that support station area plans have begun. Private/institutional initiatives are moderately supportive.

Low

Limited consideration has been given to local capital improvement programs and development initiatives that support corridor and station area plans. Private/institutional initiatives are minimally or non-supportive.

Final Design High

Public infrastructure and other local investments, as well as private/institutional initiatives, are being undertaken in the corridor and station areas which implement the local land use policies and which leverage the Federal investment in the proposed major transit investment corridor.

Medium

Local public and private/institutional capital improvement programs and development initiatives have been adopted to implement local land use policies and to leverage the Federal investment in the proposed major transit corridor.

Low

No more than initial efforts to prepare local capital improvement programs and development initiatives which support corridor and station area plans have begun. Supportive private/institutional initiatives are in initial stages or absent.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Endorsement and participation of public agencies, organizations and the private sector in development and planning process;
  • Tools and actions to promote transit-oriented development;
  • Involvement of development community in supporting station area plans and joint development efforts; and
  • Public involvement in corridor and station area planning.
6. Performance of Land Use Policies
Preliminary Engineering High

Moderate amount of transit supportive housing and employment development is occurring in the corridor.

Medium

Proposals for transit supportive housing and employment development in the corridor are being received.

Low

Limited progress, to date, toward achieving transit supportive development in the corridor.

Final Design High

Significant amount of transit supportive housing and employment development is occurring in the corridor.

Medium

Moderate amount of transit supportive housing and employment development is occurring in the corridor.

Low

Limited number of proposals for transit supportive housing and employment development in the corridor are being received.

Ratings based on assessment of the following:

  • Demonstrated cases of development affected by transit-oriented policies;
  • Corridor development targets; and
  • Station area development proposals and status.