While the major portion of FTA funding is for transit capital and operating assistance, financial support is also provided for a variety of other programs that are described below:
The FTA currently provides funding to four universities selected as University Transportation Centers to perform cutting edge research in transit disciplines and technologies. In addition to producing research results, the program trains graduate students as the next generation of professionals to lead transit research, planning, and operations. During FY 2002, FTA transferred $6,000,000 to the DOT Research and Special Programs Administration for this program. Contact: Lydia E. Mercado, Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, 202-366-5741.
The mission of the FTA is to improve public transportation for America's communities. FTA seeks to deliver products and services that are valued by its customers and to assist transit agencies in better meeting the needs of their customers. To accomplish these goals, FTA partners with the transportation industry to undertake research, development and education that will improve the quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of transit in America and lead to increases in transit ridership.
Historically, FTA’s efforts in research and technology have been categorized as follows:
Joint Partnerships: FTA enters into agreements with both public and private research organizations, transit providers, and industry to promote the early deployment of innovation in public transportation services, management, operational practices, and technology of broad applicability. An example is the current effort to develop high-priority rail transit standards for commonality in design and operations, which promises a number of direct and indirect benefits to operators and suppliers. Another example is our effort to partner with the industry in identifying and disseminating best practices for reducing and controlling costs and schedules for major transit construction projects.
Advanced Technologies: FTA assists the study, design, and demonstration of fixed-guideway technologies, bus and bus rapid transit technologies, fuel-cell-powered transit buses, advanced propulsion control for rail transit, and other types of technologies in development.
The agency encourages, in particular, activities for reducing the life-cycle costs of vehicles, systems, and facilities. FTA is working to accelerate the commercial introduction of low-emission, high-efficiency transit vehicles, in direct support of the President’s hydrogen fuel initiative. Similarly, FTA is collecting, analyzing, and disseminating objective information on the performance of hybrid-electric and other clean-fuel buses, and is providing technical assistance to the National Park Service in planning and instituting transit systems in the National Parks.
International Mass Transportation Program: FTA promotes American transit products and services overseas, and cooperates with foreign public sector entities on research and development in the public transportation industries. Trade missions and other international gatherings enable American vendors to showcase their products and services, and facilitate technology transfer and information diffusion for developing nations.
Information on FTA research and technology programs is available on the FTA Web site. During FY 2001, FTA obligated $31,857,866 for National Research and Technology activities. Contact: Henry Nejako, Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, 202-366-0184.
Through the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) of the Transportation Research Board, FTA funds research directed to local problem-solving in service concepts, vehicles and equipment, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices. The TCRP "synthesis" reports summarize best industry practices, and have proven very useful to transit operators. Over 260 products of TCRP research have been delivered to the public transportation communities. The Transportation Research Board, which administers the TCRP, maintains a publications list and description of all TCRP studies on its Web site at http://www4.trb.org/trb/crp.nsf/TCRP+projects. One copy of each TCRP product is available free of charge from the American Public Transportation Association, which maintains the TCRPOnline website at http://www.tcrponline.org. During FY 2002, FTA awarded a cooperative agreement in the amount of $8,250,000 to the National Academy of Sciences for TCRP activities. Contact: Lisa Colbert, Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, 202-366-9261.
Through the National Transit Institute (NTI), FTA develops and offers training courses for improving transit planning, operations, workforce performance, and productivity. NTI courses are conducted at sites across the United States on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from multi-modal planning to management development, third-party contracting, safety, and security. Current NTI course offerings are available online at http://www.ntionline.com/. During FY 2002, FTA awarded a cooperative agreement in the amount of $4,000,000 to Rutgers–the State University of New Jersey for NTI activities. Contact: Lydia Mercado, Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, 202-366-5741.