Availability of FTA Grants for Private Business

Q.  We are in a very small town; not a city. I charge a reduced rate to the elderly. There are a lot of things needed to make my business a success. I'm lacking the money to invest. Is there any grant for women like me in transportation?
 
A.  Except in rare instances, in which FTA awards a grant or cooperative agreement to a private for-profit entity or an individual for a “. . . research, development, demonstration, and deployment” project or “evaluation of technology of national significance to public transportation” authorized under 49 U.S.C. § 5312(a), FTA does not provide direct Federal grants or cooperative agreements to a private for-profit entity (business) or individual. However, a private for-profit organization may also qualify as a member of a consortium under the FTA Joint Partnership Program for Deployment of Innovation under 49 U.S.C. § 5312(b).
In addition, an FTA designated recipient may award its FTA grant funds to a subrecipient that is a private operator of public transportation service under the following three FTA programs:

1.  FTA’s Nonurbanized Area Formula Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5311; see, FTA Circular 9040.1F, “Nonurbanized Area Formula Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, April 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 2.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9040.1F.pdf;
2.  FTA’s Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5316; see, FTA Circular 9050.1, “The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program Guidance and Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9050.1_JARC.pdf; and
3.  FTA’s New Freedom Program authorized under 49 U.S.C. § 5317; see, FTA Circular 9045.1, “New Freedom Program Guidance and Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a. http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9045.1_New_Freedom.pdf.
It is important that any private transportation operator that seeks to be a subrecipient of FTA assistance understand that it must be willing to provide “public transportation” that is open and available to the public under the standards FTA has established for its various programs.
In addition, a private for-profit entity and an individual may participate in any FTA program as a third party contractor or subcontractor of a direct recipient of FTA assistance.
Consequently, we suggest that you contract with your local transit agency or social services agency that would be interested in providing transportation to their constituents. In addition, you should also contact the U.S. Small Business Administration regarding funding availability for a small woman-owned business:  http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/onlinewbc/index.html
(Revised: September 2010)



Q.  Are there any grants available to a local church to fund, or help fund a mini-bus to pick up residents of assisted living and retirement facilities and the home-bound?  The retirement and assisted living facilities do not run their busses on the weekends. We are trying to come up with funds to buy a 14 or less passenger minibus to transport home-bound and retirement and assisted living facilities residents to our church.

A. A church that is a “private nonprofit organization” is eligible to receive FTA assistance as a subrecipient of an FTA grantee that has received direct funding under FTA’s Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5310 and FTA’s New Freedom Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5317.  See, FTA Circular 9070.1F, “Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 6.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/C9070.1F.pdf; and FTA Circular 9045.1, “New Freedom Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9045.1_New_Freedom.pdf, respectively.
Your State Department of Transportation may be able to assist you in locating the FTA grantees for these programs.
(Revised: September 2010)


Q.  Are privately held Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, or Retirement Facilities eligible for FTA assisted funding in the purchase of ADA paratransit buses?

A. A privately held assisted living facility, nursing home, or retirement facility that is a “private nonprofit organization” is eligible to receive FTA assistance as a subrecipient of an FTA grantee that has received direct funding under FTA’s Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5310 and FTA’s New Freedom Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5317.  See, FTA Circular 9070.1F, “Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 6.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/C9070.1F.pdf; and FTA Circular 9045.1, “New Freedom Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9045.1_New_Freedom.pdf, respectively.
In addition, operators of public transportation services including private operators of public transportation services are eligible subrecipients of FTA’s New Freedom Program.  FTA Circular 9070.1F, referenced above, for example, states at Chapter III, Paragraph b(1) that:

New Freedom funds can be used to purchase and operate accessible vehicles for use in taxi, ridesharing and/or van pool programs provided that the vehicle has the capacity to accommodate a passenger who uses a “common wheelchair” as defined under 49 CFR 37.3, at a minimum, while remaining in his/her personal mobility device inside the vehicle, and meeting the same requirements for lifts, ramps and securement systems specified in 49 CFR part 38, subpart B.
If the assisted living facility, nursing home, or retirement facility were a for-profit organization, then it would have to meet FTA’s standards under the New Freedom program as an operator of public transportation services – targeted to persons with disabilities.
Nevertheless, while FTA assisted vehicles for the elderly and persons with disabilities program and New Freedom program can focus on serving individuals with specific disabilities, vehicles that are limited to the exclusive use of an organization or individual would  not eligible for FTA assistance, and requestors should instead direct their requests to the  appropriate state or local funding agencies. (Revised: September 2010)


Q. We are in dire need of a serious overhaul of radio equipment, vehicles purchases, building upgrades, antennas, and a ton of other stuff.  Is there some sort of funding for small business like ourselves who are in the Taxi business? 

A.  Direct FTA funding is statutorily limited to state and local public transit agencies and to certain non-profit organizations.  Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, if your business provides shared ride taxi services your business might be an eligible subrecipient under the New Freedom Program.  FTA considers private taxi companies that provide shared-ride taxi service to the public or to special categories of users (such as older adults or individuals with disabilities) on a regular basis to be operators of public transportation, and therefore eligible subrecipients.  “Shared-ride” means two or more passengers in the same vehicle who are otherwise not traveling together.  Similar to general public and demand response service for individuals with disabilities, every trip does not have to be shared-ride in order for a taxi company to be considered a shared-ride operator, but the general nature of the service must include shared rides.
Local (municipal/State) statutes or regulations, or company policy, will generally determine whether a taxi company provides shared-ride or exclusive-ride service.  For example, if the local regulation permits the driver to determine whether or not a trip may be shared, the service is not shared-ride.  Similarly, if the regulation requires the consent of the first passenger to hire a taxi be obtained before the taxi may take on additional riders, the service is not shared-ride.  In essence, services which can be reserved for the exclusive use of individuals or private groups, either by the operator or the first passenger’s refusal to permit additional passengers, is exclusive-ride taxi service, and is not shared-ride taxi service.  A recipient passing funds through to a taxi company subrecipient should request documentation from the taxi company to assure the company is providing shared-ride service.

Taxi companies that provide only exclusive-ride service are not eligible subrecipients; however, they may participate in the New Freedom program.  Exclusive-ride taxi companies can receive New Freedom funds to purchase accessible taxis under contract with a State, designated recipient or eligible subrecipient such as a local government or non-profit organization.  The taxi company may hold title to the accessible vehicle(s) as long as the agreement between the State, designated recipient or subrecipient and the taxi company is sufficient to establish satisfactory continuing control.  Acceptable means of establishing satisfactory continuing control could include a State, designated recipient or subrecipient’s lien on the vehicle, or contract provisions that require the accessible taxi to be used to provide transportation to people with disabilities, and that the vehicle may not be removed from service or disposed of prior to the end of its useful life without the express written consent of the FTA recipient or subrecipient.
In addition, as a private transportation provider, you may want to consider contacting the Small Business Administration or your local state transportation agency.
(Revised: September 2010)




Q.  I am looking to start a taxi/cab company here in the Manhattan area in Kansas. My question: Is there a specific federal grant for taxi/cab services for servicing elderly, soldiers, single mothers, and others?

A.  Federal grants For-profit companies generally participate in FTA programs as third party contractors. 
However, a private for profit taxi company that qualifies as an operator of public transit service under FTA standards may qualify as a subrecipient to a direct FTA grantee under the following FTA grant programs:

1.  FTA’s Nonurbanized Area Formula Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5311; see, FTA Circular 9040.1F, “Nonurbanized Area Formula Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions, April 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 2.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9040.1F.pdf; and
2.  FTA’s Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5316; see, FTA Circular 9050.1, “The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program Guidance and Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a, http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9050.1_JARC.pdf.
In addition, a taxicab company can be an eligible subrecipient under FTA’s New Freedom Program authorized under 49 U.S.C. § 5317; see, FTA Circular 9045.1, “New Freedom Program Guidance and Application Instructions, May 1, 2007, Chapter III, Section 5.a. http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FTA_C_9045.1_New_Freedom.pdf.
FTA’s formula grants for areas classified as nonurbanized areas are distributed to the Governors of the individual states for apportionment to recipients or subrecipients on a local basis.  You should contact your local state DOT to see whether funds are available in your area. (Revised: September 2010)

 


Q. Can the local public transportation organizations be made to offer on demand paratransit?  Are there funds for creating a new nonprofit paratransit organization?  I'm in Corning, NY and there is no on-demand paratransit in my city or Steuben County.
 
A.  Department of Transportation regulations, “Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities (ADA),” 49 C.F.R. Part 37, at 37.121 provides that except for commuter bus, commuter rail, or intercity rail systems, each public entity operating a fixed route transportation system must provide paratransit or other special service to individuals with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system, unless it receives a waiver caused by an “undue financial burden.” 

It is our understanding that the Steuben Public Transportation System has a demand response service program.  See, http://www.steubentransit.com/service.htm
Federal grants for the provision of service to elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities, such as on-demand paratransit, and to residents of nonurbanized areas are available under FTA’s Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5310, and FTA’s New Freedom Program, authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5317, and FTA’s Nonurbanized Area Formula Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5311.  Those grants are distributed to the governors of the individual states for apportionment based on local needs. 

You should contact your local state DOT to see whether funds are available for your area.  (Revised: September 2010)




Q.  I have a patent pending on a radial maglev engine design, which replaces car and truck internal combustion engines. I have already submitted appropriate write-ups to USDOT for grant funding.
 
A.  Under its National Research Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5314(a), FTA may award Federal assistance and Federal contracts for “research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects, and evaluation of technology of national significance to public transportation, that the Secretary determines will improve public transportation service or help public transportation service meet the total transportation needs at a minimum cost.”  49 U.S.C. § 5312(a).  Federal grant assistance for development of your invention of a radial maglev engine design is not available under other FTA grant programs  (Revised: September 2010)