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AASHTO Journal

FTA Issues Private Investment Final Rule, Unlocks $25.8M in Transit Grants

The Federal Transit Administration issued its Private Investment Project Procedures (PIPP) final rule on May 30, which aims to spur "new processes" for increasing private sector participation and investment in transit project planning, development, finance, design, construction, maintenance, and operations.

That rule notification follows the agency's release of $25.8 million worth of grant funds via its Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development or "TOD" Planning back on May 24 to support what it called "transit planning efforts" in communities across the country. More details regarding those grants are available via FTA's Notice of Funding Opportunity posted in the Federal Register.

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a statement that those efforts are aimed at "encouraging innovation and streamlining project delivery while protecting the public interest" when it comes to transit projects.

ftalogo.jpgWhere the PIPP final rule is concerned, it allows grant recipients the ability to identify FTA regulations, practices, procedures or guidance that may impede the use of a public-private partnership (more commonly known as a "P3") or private investment in that project. Williams added that the FTA Administrator would have discretion to grant a modification or waiver of a requirement within the PIPP rules if certain criteria are met, though it cannot be used to waive any requirement under the National Environmental Policy Act or any other Federal statute.

"This final rule allows the public transportation industry to identify where there may be barriers to developing projects in concert with capable private partners," she said.

The PIPP final rule goes into effect June 29, FTA added.

Meanwhile, the agency said its TOD Pilot Program seeks to better "integrate" land use and transportation planning to support transit ridership, multimodal connectivity, and mixed-use development near transit stations. To ensure that planning work reflects the needs of the local community, FTA stressed that transit project sponsors and entities with land use planning authority must partner to conduct the planning work.

"It is important for communities and transit agencies to comprehensively plan their public transportation systems to improve mobility and access to transit," noted Williams. "This program is an excellent opportunity for cities and towns to maximize transit-oriented development around their transit systems and ensure they are capturing the value associated with transit."

FTA added that the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act established the TOD Pilot Program, with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act later amending the program so it is authorized through fiscal year 2020.

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