A major way FTA helps communities support public transportation is by issuing grants to eligible recipients for planning, vehicle purchases, facility construction, operations, and other purposes. FTA administers this financial assistance according to authorization, SAFETEA-LU, which was signed into law in August 2005.
SAFETEA-LU authorizes specific dollar amounts for each program. Each year Congress provides an annual appropriation which funds the programs specified in SAFETEA-LU. Upon receiving this appropriation, FTA apportions and allocates these funds according to formulas and earmarks. These FTA apportionments are published annually in the Federal Register.
FTA programs are typically identified by a name and/or a section number (of Title 49 of the United States Code) – for example, the "Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities" or "Section 5310" grant program. Each year Congress appropriates funds for each program and FTA awards grants to eligible recipients to meet the goals of that program.
Generally, FTA funds are available to designated recipients that must be public bodies (i.e. states, cities, towns, regional governments, transit authorities, etc.) with the legal authority to receive and dispense federal funds. The recipients of these grants are responsible for managing their projects in accordance with federal requirements. FTA conducts oversight reviews to ensure that these requirements are met.
In addition to FTA's grant programs, there are other methods for funding public transportation; these are detailed in the Transit Finance section.
On August 13, 2008, the Department of Labor (DOL) published its Final Rule in the Federal Register Notice (Vol 73, Number 157) [HTML] [PDF] revising procedures for processing FTA grants (labor protective arrangements). The rule is effective October 1 to coincide with the new fiscal year. The revised procedures include streamlined warranty procedures for the Section 5311 and Over-the-Road Bus programs, a new Unified Protective Arrangement that will replace the former separate Operating and Capital Assistance arrangements, a streamlined process for certifying many grant amendments without referral, confirmation that DOL certification is not required for budget revisions as defined by FTA, and a streamlined process for certifying “like kind” replacements and grants that have no material impact on existing labor protections without referral. The new guidelines do not change the way DOL processes JARC grants.
On September 14, 2007, DOL, Office of Labor-Management Standards, proposed revisions to existing procedures for processing grant applications under the Federal transit law to ensure timely certifications in a predictable manner, and remain consistent with the transit law's statutory objectives. The announcement was made in the Federal Register inviting comments by October 15, 2007on the proposed revisions and guidelines.
Link to the DOL Federal Register Notice of Proposed Rule Making: [HTML] [PDF]
Link to the DOL 29 CFR Part 215 Final Rule Federal Register Notice (Vol 73, Number 157) August 13, 2008: [HTML] [PDF]
Link to Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)