Transit program

Transit bus

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes a total of $8.4 billion in funds for public transportation, which is appropriated to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for three different programs: (1) Capital Transit Assistance; (2) Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment; and (3) Capital Investment Grants (new/small starts). Details about these three programs are offered on this page.

In addition to the funds appropriated to the FTA, Congress made $1.5 billion available to the U.S. DOT for a multi-modal discretionary surface transportation grant program for which transit projects are eligible. This program is administered by the Office of the Secretary and details about it are offered through this Web site on the Surface Transportation program page.

Certain types of transit projects were also eligible for funding under the Highway Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration. A total of five transit projects were selected for funding by the regional planning affiliations and metropolitan planning organizations. For details, see the list of local projects.
  • Capital Transit Assistance Program

    The ARRA appropriated $6.9 billion for four separate grant programs in this category of funding: (1) Transit Capital Assistance (Section 5307-urbanized areas formula program); (2) Transit Capital Assistance (Section 5311-non-urbanized areas formula program); (3) a $17 million discretionary capital program for Indian Tribes; and (4) a $100 million discretionary capital program for energy savings measures by transit agencies. Iowa is expected to receive $36,483,617 in formula funding under the Capital Transit Assistance Program.
    • Urbanized Area Formula

      Direct Apportionments to Urbanized Areas over 200,000 Population

      Larger communities located totally or partially within Iowa each received direct allocations and have used local procedures to select projects.

      Statewide Apportionment for Urbanized Areas between 50,000 and 200,000 Population

      A total of $10,689,659 was apportioned to Iowa to be used in the Ames, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City, Sioux City, and Waterloo urbanized areas.  These funds will be used to purchase 17 replacement vehicles, 15 expansion vehicles and complete two facility projects.  [For a complete listing of formula projects programmed for each subrecipient transit system, go to projects section.]

    • Non-urbanized Area Formula

      The total funding available to Iowa for through the Section 5340 nonurbanized apportionment is $15,156,406. This funding will be used to purchase 128 replacement vehicles, four expansion vehicles and complete four facility projects. [For a complete listing of formula projects programmed for each subrecipient transit system, go to projects section.]

      State project selection process for the Transit Capital Assistance Program

      The Iowa Transportation Commission is responsible for making funding decisions regarding the state’s transit apportionments for urbanized areas 50,000 to 199,999 in population and nonurbanized areas. The Iowa DOT is responsible for presenting funding recommendations to the Commission.

      Most transit systems already had capital projects listed in their Transportation Improvement Program as candidates for these programs before enactment of the ARRA. However, the Iowa DOT provided the transit systems with an opportunity to submit applications for additional projects that could qualify for the funding.

      Then, the Iowa DOT worked with the Public Transit Equipment and Facilities Management System (PTMS) Advisory Committee to review candidate projects. The advisory committee applied established criteria for discretionary capital to the review process: (1) maintain emphasis on vehicle replacement – 60 percent; “shovel-ready” facility improvements – 15 percent; and expansion vehicles - 25 percent.

      Replacement vehicle prioritization was allocated based on the PTMS priority rankings within each of the state criteria; then adjustments were made to assure that each transit system in Iowa received at least one replacement vehicle, if they had not been programmed for other transit projects.

      Facility project prioritization included projects previously approved by the Transportation Commission for FY09 Public Transit Infrastructure Grant Funding, but funding had not been made available; and paving projects that are not eligible under the state’s vertical infrastructure program.

      The highest priority for expansion vehicles was given to areas where new service has already been initiated using locally funded, high-mileage used equipment. Selection of other expansion vehicles was based on individual justifications for new service.

      Before making its recommendation to the Transportation Commission, the Iowa DOT presented the PTMS Advisory Committee’s list of candidate projects to the transit agencies attending an Iowa Public Transit Assistance meeting. As a result of their input, the Iowa DOT further refined the candidate list to ensure that all agencies were receiving assistance through ARRA.

      On March 10, 2009, the Iowa Transportation Commission approved the Iowa DOT’s funding recommendations. To see the complete list, visit the “Project Lists-Transit” section of this site.

    • Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program

      On March 24, 2009, the FTA published in the Federal Register an interim notice of funding and request for comments for the new $100 million discretionary grant program for public transit projects, designed to reduce energy consumption or reduce greenhouse gases.   Complete proposals for the grant program were due by May 22, 2009.  Eligible applicants under this new grant program are public transit agencies. The ARRA authorizes two purposes for these grants: (1) capital investments that will assist in reducing the energy consumption of a transit system; or (2) capital investments that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of a public transportation system. Proposals for projects could be submitted under either or both categories. Each submitted proposal must request a minimum of $2 million.  FTA allowed consolidated proposals from transit agencies to reach this threshold submitted either directly through a designated recipient, a metropolitan planning organization, state transit association, transportation management association or through the DOT. The maximum grant amount is $25 million.  The federal share for grants is 100 percent, although applicants may request a lower federal share. Complete proposal and submission information is available in the Federal Register notice.

      On May 22, 2009, the Iowa Public Transit Association (IPTA) submitted a pre-application for funding under the TIGGER program on behalf of nine transit systems in Iowa. The combined total of the applications is $14,172,958. See table below for details.
      On September 21, 2009 the Obama Administration announced $100 million in Economic Recovery Act funding under the TIGGER program.  The Ames Transit Agency (Ames, CyRide) was one of the 43 transit projects selected from across the country.  The transit system will receive $1,600,000 in funding for upgrading forty-foot diesel buses on order to hybrid electric buses.  The Ames Transit Agency will be required to file a final application with the FTA to actually receive the funding.

      Qty Project Sponsoring Agency Cost


      40’ Hybrid upgrades/biodiesel

      Ames Transit Agency (CyRide)



      60’ Articulated buses

      Ames Transit Agency (CyRide)



      40’ Hybrid upgrades

      Des Moines Regional Transit Authority (DART)



      30’ Hybrid upgrades

      Waterloo MET



      158” Hybrid upgrade

      Region XII - Western Iowa Transit



      29’ Hybrid upgrades

      Burlington Urban Service



      40’ Hybrid upgrades/biodiesel

      Cambus (Iowa City area)



      40’ Hybrid upgrades

      Coralville Transit System



      35’ Hybrid upgrades

      Davenport Transit System (Citibus)



      40’ Hybrid upgrades/biodiesel

      Iowa City Transit






    • Tribal Transit Program

      Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program
      The Recovery Act provided $17 million in funding to the Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program (Tribal Transit Program-TTP), which is administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Grant applicants for this program will be selected on a competitive basis and the federal share of the TTP grant is up to 100 percent of the net project cost.

      Funding under this program is intended to preserve or create jobs, contribute to cleaning our environment through green purchases, retrofit existing facilities, make public transportation opportunities available to more people, and help ease local fiscal problems.

      Eligible capital projects include, but are not limited to: preventive maintenance; acquiring, constructing, supervising or inspecting equipment or a facility for use in public transportation (including engineering, designing, location surveying, mapping, and acquiring right of way) transit-related ITS; rehabilitating buses; remanufacturing a bus; overhauling rail rolling stock; leasing a facility or equipment for use in public transportation where more cost-effective than purchase or construction; public transportation improvement that enhances economic development or incorporates private investment, including commercial and residential development, pedestrian and bicycle access to public transportation facilities, construction or renovation of intercity bus and rail stations and terminals, renovation and improvements of historic transportation facilities, where the improvement enhances the effectiveness of a public transportation project and is physically or functionally related to that public transportation project, or creates a new or enhanced coordination between public transportation and other transportation and provides a fair share of revenue to be used in public transportation; eligible crime prevention and security expenses; establishing a debt service reserve; and mobility management.

      Eligible applicants include federally-recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native villages, groups or communities as identified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). To be an eligible recipient, a tribe must have the requisite legal, financial and technical capabilities to receive and administer federal funds under this program. A tribe may submit a copy of the most up-to-day April 4, 2008, Federal Register notice published by DOI, BIA: Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Service from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

      Applications for this program were due May 22, 2009. The FTA will announce grant awards in the Federal Register when the competitive selection process is complete. It is not known if any of the eligible Indian tribes in Iowa applied for the funding.

      For more information about this program, see the March 23, 2009, Federal Register notice. For application-specific information and issues, contact the appropriate FTA regional Tribal Liaison identified in the Federal Register notice. For general program information, contact Lorna R. Wilson, Office of Transit Programs, at 202-366-2053, E-mail: Lorna Wilson.

  • Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment Program

    The ARRA provides $750 million for FTA’s Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment program to modernize or improve existing fixed guideway systems (rail transit systems), which could include the purchase or rehabilitation of rolling stock, track, equipment or facilities.

    Funds under this program are allocated by a statutory formula to urbanized areas with a population of 200,000 or more with fixed guideway systems that have been in operation for at least seven years. A “fixed guideway” refers to any transit service that uses exclusive or controlled rights of way or rails, entirely or in part. The term includes heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, monorail, trolleybus, aerial tramway, inclined plane, cable car, automated guideway transit, ferry boats, that portion of motor bus service operated on exclusive or controlled rights of way, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

    The total amount apportioned for the Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment Program is $742.5 million, after the one percent deduction for program administration and oversight. The March 5, 2009, Federal Register notice included an apportionment table for the $742.5 million, which allocated funds directly to 39 urbanized areas that have fixed guideway transit systems. No funding was apportioned to Iowa.
  • Capital Investment Grants

    The ARRA makes $750 million available for FTA’s New and Small Starts programs. Additional financial support for these programs is projected to generate over 20,000 jobs nationally, will increase public transportation infrastructure and expedite the availability of additional transportation options. In addition, investing in these major capital investments offers communities significant opportunities to develop sound approaches for achieving their transportation, environmental and community objectives.

    Eligible recipients for capital investment funds are public bodies and agencies (transit authorities and other state and local public bodies and agencies) including states, municipalities, other political subdivisions of states; public agencies and instrumentalities of one or more states; and certain public corporations, boards, and commissions established under state law.

    Iowa is not eligible for funding under this program because statutory consideration was given to projects already under construction that could obligate funds by July 17, 2009. The FTA announced its allocation of these funds in the May 11, 2009, Federal Register, based on an analysis of construction scheduled and cash flow needs of New Starts and Small Starts projects currently under construction.

Peter Hallock, Assistant Director
Office of Public Transit
ph. 515-239-1765
fax 515-233-7983