Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) grants fund billions of transit-related projects throughout the United States. In an effort to improve the project delivery process for those projects, the FTA on September 3, 2015, announced the establishment of the Expedited Public Transportation Improvement Initiative (“XPEDITE”) in the Federal Register. The FTA is soliciting participation in an online dialogue regarding XPEDITE, the goals of which are to facilitate the transit industry’s implementation of the following:Proven technologies to improve service delivery and maintenance for the public transit industry; Proven methods to speed up planning, development, approval, and delivery of FTA supported capital investments; and Innovative financing methods and opportunities for public-private partnerships that support capital investments.
The FTA is soliciting input through the online dialogue related to improving aspects of the project delivery process for projects in all of its grant programs, including not just the discretionary Capital Investment Grant program (New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity), but also the Urbanized Areas, Rural Areas, State of Good Repair, and Bus and Bus Facilities Formula Programs.
Since the passage of the most recent surface transportation authorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (or, “MAP-21”), the FTA has implemented several new procedures to streamline project delivery. For example, the FTA joined with the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) to undertake a series of rulemakings that expedite compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). Specifically, the FTA established sixteen new categorical exclusions that are specific to public transportation projects. Similarly, the United States Department of Transportation has established a new Build America Transportation Investment Center, serving as a resource for state and local governments, public and private developers, and investors seeking to use innovative financing strategies for transportation infrastructure projects.
XPEDITE is intended to function in a manner similar to the FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative. The FTA will consider market readiness, impacts, benefits, and ease of adoption in determining what innovations will be advanced through XPEDITE. The FTA is particularly interested in information about barriers to the implementation of technological improvements that may exist in the administration of its programs. In addition, the FTA is seeking ideas regarding all aspects of project delivery, including approval, construction administration, procurement, compliance with NEPA, and right-of-way acquisition, especially barriers to quick implementation of projects both in terms of its internal business processes as well as processes related to the delivery of projects by grantees. Finally, the FTA is seeking information regarding value capture as part of project financing arrangements, including what mechanisms might be used and how FTA could work to facilitate such arrangements.
The online dialogue will be open on the FTA’s Web site no later than September 8, 2015.