[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 192 (Tuesday, October 5, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61553-61556]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-24990]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration

[Docket No FTA-2010-0027]


National Transit Database: Amendments to the Urbanized Area 
Annual Reporting Manual and to the Safety and Security Reporting Manual

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Amendments to the 2011 National Transit 
Database Urbanized Area Annual Reporting Manual and Announcement of 
Immediate Suspension of Collecting Security Data on the S&S-50 Form in 
the Safety and Security Module

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SUMMARY: This notice provides interested parties with the opportunity 
to comment on changes to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) 
National Transit Database (NTD) reporting requirements, including 
amendments to the 2011 Urbanized Area Annual Reporting Manual (Annual 
Manual). Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5335, FTA requires recipients or 
beneficiaries of FTA Urbanized Area Formula Grants to provide an annual 
report to the Secretary of Transportation via the NTD reporting system 
according to a uniform system of accounts (USOA). Other transit systems 
in urbanized areas report to the NTD under these requirements on a 
voluntary basis for purposes of including data from their NTD reports 
in the apportionment of Urbanized Area Formula Grants. In an ongoing 
effort to improve the NTD reporting system and be responsive to the 
needs of the transit systems reporting to the NTD, FTA annually refines 
and clarifies the reporting requirements through revisions to the 
Annual Manual. Additionally, FTA announces that it is immediately 
suspending data collection of personal security incidents on the S&S-50 
Form in the Safety & Security Module.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 6, 2010. FTA 
will consider late filed comments to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments [identified by DOT Docket ID Number 
FTA-2010-0027] at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
    Fax: 202-493-2251.
    Mail: Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground 
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: When submitting comments, you must use docket number 
FTA-2010-0027. This will ensure that your comment is placed in the 
correct docket. If you submit comments by mail, you should submit two 
copies and include the above docket number. Note that all comments 
received will be posted, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov 
including any personal identifying information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John D. Giorgis, NTD Program Manager, 
Office of Budget and Policy, (202) 366-5430 (telephone); (202) 366-7989 
(fax); or john.giorgis@dot.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    The National Transit Database (NTD) is the Federal Transit 
Administration's (FTA's) primary database for statistics on the transit 
industry. Congress established the NTD to ``help meet the needs of * * 
* the public for information on which to base public transportation 
service planning * * *'' (49 U.S.C. 5335). Currently, over 700 transit 
providers in urbanized areas report to the NTD through an Internet-
based reporting system. Each year, performance data from these 
submissions are used to apportion over $6 billion of FTA funds under 
the Urbanized Area Formula (Section 5307) Grants and the Fixed Guideway 
Modernization Grants Programs. These data are made available on the NTD 
Web site at http://www.ntdprogram.gov for the benefit of the public, 
transit systems, and all levels of government. These data are also used 
in the annual National Transit Summaries and Trends report, the 
biennial Conditions and Performance Report to Congress, and in meeting 
FTA's obligations under the Government Performance and Results Act. 
Reporting requirements are governed by a Uniform System of Accounts 
(USOA) and an Annual Reporting Manual that is issued each year. Both 
the USOA and the Annual Manual are available for review on the NTD 
Website at http://www.ntdprogram.gov. Additionally, urbanized area 
transit systems also make monthly reports to the NTD on safety and 
security incidents through the NTD Safety & Security Module.

II. Proposed Changes in the 2011 Annual Manual

    FTA proposes several substantive changes to the Annual Manual for 
the 2011 Report Year: (1) To clarify the eligibility of vanpools to be 
reported to the NTD; (2) to redefine several of the modes of 
transportation service; (3) to make some definitional clarifications; 
(4) to revise the reporting requirements for small transit systems; (5) 
to add financial balance sheet reporting; (6) to update the procedures 
for making urbanized area allocations; and (7) to establish special 
procedures for handling the release of new urbanized area definitions 
from the Census Bureau.

(1) Eligibility of Vanpools for the NTD

    Currently, FTA requires vanpools to have a public sponsor in order 
to be included in the NTD. This does not capture vanpool service being 
provided as public transportation by the private sector. In other 
cases, the mere existence of a public sponsor for vanpool service has 
allowed some vanpools to be reported to the NTD without adequate 
assurances that the vanpool is in fact public transportation.
    FTA proposes to change its requirements for reporting vanpool 
service to the NTD as follows: To be included in the NTD, a sponsor of 
vanpool service must demonstrate: (1) That it is open to the public and 
that any vans that are restricted a priori to particular employers and 
which do not participate in the ride-matching service of the vanpool 
are excluded from the NTD report; (2) that it actively engages in the 
following activities: advertising the vanpool service to the public, 
matching interested members of the public to vanpools with available 
seats, and reasonable planning to increase its service (when funding is 
available) to meet demand from additional riders; (3) that the service 
is open to individuals with disabilities, in accordance with the 
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and (4) that it has a record-
keeping system in place to collect and report fully-allocated operating 
costs for the service.

[[Page 61554]]

    Reporting fully-allocated operating costs means that the vanpool 
can report on the total cost of the service, including: (1) Any fuel, 
insurance, and maintenance costs paid by vanpool participants; (2) all 
advertising and promotion costs; (3) costs paid by any third-parties to 
support the vanpool program; and (4) any contract administration costs 
borne by the vanpool sponsor.
    Finally, NTD IDs for vanpool programs will be assigned on the basis 
of the entity that is sponsoring the vanpool, and is defining the 
eligibility requirements for participation in the vanpool. FTA will 
require all existing vanpool services in the NTD to recertify their 
approval to report to the NTD based on the new criteria for the 2011 
Report Year.

(2) New Modes

    Almost all data reported to the NTD is reported on the basis of 
modes of service, such as the commuter rail (CR) mode or the demand 
response (DR) mode. Mode of operation is a useful way of organizing 
transit data, as it easily facilitates the creation of National 
benchmarks and performance peer-groups for systems of similar 
characteristics. To facilitate this, and to recognize that modes have 
changed over time, FTA proposes creating four new modes of operation: 
Bus Rapid Transit (RB), Commuter Bus (CB), Streetcar Rail (SR), and 
Hybrid Rail (YR). These definitions, like all NTD modes, may not 
necessarily apply to other areas where definitions are established by 
law, rule, or regulation.
    Bus Rapid Transit (RB): This mode will be for fixed-route bus 
systems that either (1) operate their entire routes predominantly on 
fixed-guideways (other than on highway HOV or shoulder lanes, such as 
for commuter bus service) or (2) that operate entire routes of high-
frequency service with the following elements: substantial transit 
stations, traffic signal priority or pre-emption, low-floor vehicles or 
level-platform boarding, and separate branding of the service. High-
frequency service is defined as 10-minute peak and 15-minute off-peak 
headways for at least 14 hours of service operations per day.
    Commuter Bus (CB): This mode will be for fixed-route bus systems 
that are primarily connecting outlying areas with a central city 
through bus service that operates with at least five miles of 
continuous closed-door service. This service typically operates using 
motorcoaches, and usually features peak scheduling, multiple-trip 
tickets, and multiple stops in outlying areas with limited stops in the 
central city.
    Streetcar Rail (SR): This mode is for rail transit systems 
operating entire routes predominantly on streets in mixed-traffic. This 
service typically operates with single-car trains powered by overhead 
catenaries and with frequent stops.
    Hybrid Rail (YR): This mode is for rail transit systems primarily 
operating entire routes on the National system of railroads, but not 
operating with the characteristics of commuter rail. This service 
typically operates light rail-type vehicles as diesel multiple-unit 
trains (DMU's). These trains do not meet Federal Railroad 
Administration standards, and so must operate with temporal separation 
from freight rail traffic.
    FTA expects that many systems reporting these new modes will make a 
transition of 100% of their service from the existing Motorbus (MB) or 
Light Rail (LR) modes to the new mode. For systems that will need to 
split their service between an existing mode and a new mode, FTA will 
grant waivers from this requirement for up to two years to accommodate 
the transition.

(3) Definition Clarifications

    FTA proposes reclassifying ``Aerial Tramway'' to be reported as a 
``rail'' mode of operation, as this will aid data presentation in 
allowing it to be included with other small rail modes, such as 
Inclined Plane.
    FTA also proposes combining the Monorail (MO) and Automated 
Guideway (AG) modes into a single Monorail/Automated Guideway (MG) 
mode. Currently, the definition of the ``Monorail'' mode only applies 
to a single system in Seattle, Washington. Also, the Automated Guideway 
mode currently applies to systems that are often popularly thought of 
as being in the Monorail mode (e.g. the Las Vegas Monorail.) In 
practice, both of these modes have similar characteristics of exclusive 
guideway without using steel wheels on rails. Combining these modes 
will increase data clarity for our users.
    FTA also proposes clarifying the definitions used to collect miles 
of rail right-of-way alignment on the Transit Way Mileage (A-20) Form. 
FTA collects at-grade rail alignments on this form according to three 
categories: (1) At-grade exclusive right-of-way; (2) at-grade with 
cross-traffic; and (3) at-grade with mixed and cross-traffic. 
Examination of past years' NTD reports has indicated that this data has 
been inconsistently reported in the past. FTA proposes the following 
clarifications:
    At-Grade With Mixed and Cross Traffic: includes alignments where 
rail vehicles and rubber-tire vehicles travel in the same lanes, and 
alignments where pedestrians may freely cross the tracks at any point.
    At-Grade With Cross Traffic: closed (i.e., non-mixed) rail 
alignments between any two contiguous crossings that are at-grade 
should be reported as At-Grade With Cross Traffic. For example, 
crossing another right-of-way by using a tunnel or an elevated 
structure would not constitute an at-grade crossing, and at-grade 
crossings located before and after the tunnel or elevated structure 
would not be contiguous. The same would be true for tunnels or elevated 
structures used by the other right-of-way. Similarly, closed rail 
alignments between a rail yard or maintenance facility and an at-grade 
crossing should also be reported as ``at-grade with cross traffic.'' 
At-grade alignments between an at-grade crossing and an other-than-at-
grade crossing with another right-of-way should be reported as At-Grade 
Exclusive Right-of-Way (ROW).

(4) Reporting Requirements for Small Systems

    The NTD currently offers reduced reporting requirements to 
recipients or beneficiaries of Section 5307 grants that only operate 9 
or fewer vehicles in maximum service throughout the year. Systems 
receiving this ``9 or Fewer Vehicles Waiver'' currently only need to 
report their contact information and their revenue vehicle inventory to 
the NTD each year. Systems receiving this waiver, however, do not 
report any data on service operations (e.g., vehicle revenue miles), 
nor on ridership, and thus data from these systems is not available for 
use in the apportionment of Section 5307 grants (including the Small 
Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) tier). As such, of the 144 transit 
systems eligible for this waiver in 2009, only 98 (68%) used the 
waiver. This is an even smaller percentage (14%) of the 705 systems 
reporting to the NTD in 2009.
    The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity 
Act: A Legacy to Users (SAFETEA-LU) of 2005 established new 
requirements for recipients or beneficiaries of Section 5311 grants 
(Other Than Urbanized Area (Rural) Formula Grants) to report to the NTD 
on their sources of revenues, vehicle revenue miles, and ridership, 
among other factors. This created two unusual circumstances. First, the 
NTD now collects and makes available to the public more data on rural 
transit systems than on small transit systems in urbanized areas. 
Second, in order to

[[Page 61555]]

meet statutory reporting requirements, a small transit system that 
receives funding from both the Section 5307 and Section 5311 Programs 
may receive a ``9 or Fewer Vehicles Waiver'' for urbanized area 
reporting, but then must also provide data to their State Department of 
Transportation (State DOT) for rural reporting. These overlapping 
reporting requirements have caused confusion both to transit systems 
required to report to the NTD and to data users. Thus, FTA proposes to 
align the requirements for transit systems receiving a ``9 or Fewer 
Vehicles Waiver'' with the reporting requirements for the Rural NTD 
Module. Transit systems receiving such a waiver will report directly to 
the NTD Annual Module (Urbanized Area Reporting) through reporting 
forms that closely mirror the RU-20 Form used for the Rural NTD. As 
such, State DOTs will not be required to complete an RU-20 on behalf of 
subrecipients that are already reporting directly to the urbanized area 
modules of the NTD, but will instead simply complete the RU-50 
Subrecipient Identification Form for these subrecipients.
    In order to offset the increased burden on the public, FTA proposes 
to expand this waiver to urbanized area transit systems operating 30 or 
Fewer Vehicles in Maximum Service, and which do not operate any service 
over fixed-guideways. This would expand eligibility for the new ``30 or 
Fewer Vehicles Waiver'' to over 180 additional transit systems, 
representing nearly half of the transit systems reporting to the NTD.
    Thus, transit systems receiving this waiver would be required to 
continue to report information on their contact information, their 
service area, and their revenue vehicle inventory. Additionally, these 
systems would be required to report on their sources of operating funds 
applied and sources of capital funds applied (at the level of each 
individual FTA program, total state funds, total local funds, and other 
funds), volunteer resources, and taxi cab trips used. Furthermore, 
service data would be reported by these systems as an annual total of 
vehicle revenue miles, vehicle revenue hours, unlinked passenger trips, 
and sponsored demand response trips. Passenger miles, however, would 
not be collected--in order to exempt these systems from the burden of 
sampling. Data from these systems would be used in the apportionment of 
formula grants (including STIC) wherever possible, but would be 
excluded from those calculations in the apportionment that rely upon 
passenger mile data. Systems that wish for their passenger mile data to 
benefit their local urbanized area in the apportionment must not apply 
for this waiver and must instead file a full NTD report.
    Additionally, to support the apportionments, systems receiving this 
waiver would still be required to complete the short Federal Funding 
Allocation (FFA-10) Form. Additionally, systems receiving this waiver 
would now also be required to report to the Safety & Security Module, 
as well as to the Monthly Module. The Monthly Module requires a monthly 
report within 30 days of unlinked passenger trips, vehicle revenue 
miles, vehicle revenue hours, and vehicles operated within maximum 
service for the month. The Safety & Security Module requires a detailed 
report within 30 days of any incident involving one or more fatalities, 
one or more injuries, total property damage in excess of $25,000, or an 
evacuation for life safety reasons. The Safety & Security Module also 
requires a summary monthly report of minor incidents such as fires 
requiring suppression, or single-person slips or falls resulting in 
injuries. Most systems receiving this waiver would be able to quickly 
submit their monthly report indicating that no reportable incidents 
occurred.

(5) Financial Balance Sheet Reporting

    In its proposed amendments to the 2009 Reporting Manual, FTA 
provided notice of its intent to simplify its existing data collection 
on bonds and loans. The current forms have caused a great deal of 
confusion to transit systems reporting to the NTD. FTA proposed to 
simplify bond and loan reporting on a separate form. However, FTA has 
received comments that this proposal was inadequate because it focused 
solely on one category of liabilities--bonds and loans--and also 
because it provided an incomplete picture of a transit system's 
financial health by not collecting any information on financial assets. 
FTA believes that information on the financial health of transit 
systems is very useful in fulfilling the NTD's statutory purpose of 
providing ``information on which to base public transportation service 
planning,'' so FTA is modifying its original proposal. As such, FTA 
proposes to add the reporting of an end-of-year balance sheet for 
transit systems reporting to the NTD. In order to reduce the burden to 
reporters, it proposes consolidating the asset and liability classes 
found in the Uniform System of Accounts (USOA) as follows, with the 
number of the corresponding USOA accounts in parentheses:
    For liabilities, transit systems would report their end-of-year 
Long Term Debt (221), Estimated Liabilities-Long-Term Pension 
Liabilities (231.01), Estimated Liabilities-Other (231.02 and 231.03), 
and Other Liabilities (201-211 & 241).
    For financial assets, transit systems would report their end-of-
year Cash and Receivables (101 & 102), Investments (131), Special Funds 
(141), and Other Financial Assets (105, 151). The value of materials 
and supplies (103), capital assets (111 & 112), and intangible assets 
(121) would not be collected in order to minimize reporting. The full 
Uniforms System of Accounts can be found online at http://www.ntdprogram.gov under the link for ``Reference Materials.'' FTA is 
proposing to implement these categories for the 2011 Report Year and 
wishes to give transit systems plenty of time to prepare for this 
change through training and webinars. Nevertheless, FTA will grant data 
waivers for the first year of reporting in cases where transit systems 
need additional time to meet these requirements. Additionally, this 
information will not be required for any transit system making use of 
the 30 or fewer vehicles waiver.

(6) Revision of Rules for Urbanized Area Allocations

    The NTD recognizes three basic types of geographic areas: urbanized 
areas over 200,000 in population (large UZAs); urbanized areas under 
200,000 in population (small UZAs); and non-urbanized areas (rural 
areas.) On the FFA-10 form, transit systems reporting to the NTD are 
required to allocate data on their operating statistics among each of 
the one or more large UZAs, each of the one or more small UZAs, and to 
rural areas (in aggregate) served by the transit system. The data to be 
allocated includes vehicle revenue miles (VRM), vehicle revenue hours 
(VRH), unlinked passenger trips (UPT), passenger miles traveled (PMT), 
and operating expenses, as well as fixed-guideway information (if 
applicable). Transit systems may make this allocation based on actual 
data (if the transit system ordinarily records actual data based on 
each of the geographic areas served), or the transit system may 
allocate its data on the basis of the ratio of vehicle revenue miles 
operated in each geographic area.
    Currently, if a transit system operates transit service connecting 
one or more small UZAs or rural areas to a large UZA, the NTD allows 
the transit system to allocate all of that service to the large UZA on 
the FFA-10 form. This is based on the concept that this service is 
``serving'' the large UZA. In the past, this policy was often 
beneficial to transit systems, as only large UZAs received an

[[Page 61556]]

apportionment of funds based on service data reported to the NTD. Thus, 
allocation of as much service data as possible to the large UZA 
resulted in the greatest potential benefits in the apportionment. Since 
the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), this 
calculation has changed. Now, small UZAs also receive an apportionment 
based on service data reported to the NTD under the Small Transit 
Intensive Cities (STIC) formula.
    FTA proposes to change this policy as follows: Transit systems 
reporting to the NTD must allocate data on the FFA-10 to each urbanized 
areas served by the transit system, and to rural areas in aggregate (if 
rural areas are served by the transit system), based on a reasonable 
representation of the service provided to each area. Service that 
connects a small UZA or a rural area to a large UZA cannot be allocated 
entirely to the large UZA. An area is considered served by transit 
service if passengers can board or alight the transit service there. 
Thus, service that begins in a small UZA, operates on a closed-door 
basis through a rural area, and ends in a large UZA should only be 
allocated to the small UZA and the large UZA--as the rural area is not 
served by transit in this case. Transit systems should make this 
allocation based on actual data whenever possible, but may make this 
allocation based on VRM, UPT, or PMT, or some other reasonable and 
consistent method that reflects the service provided.
    FTA proposes to change its policy for three reasons. First, FTA 
wishes to provide a more accurate representation of the distribution of 
transit service among various urbanized areas and rural areas to our 
data users. Secondly, the current policy does not properly allocate 
transit service data to small UZAs for use in calculating the 
apportionment of funds under the Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) 
Program. Finally, transit researchers and policymakers have expressed 
concern to FTA that the current policy understates the level of transit 
service in rural areas. The NTD was recently expanded to collect data 
from recipients of FTA's Other Than Urbanized Area Formula Grant 
(Section 5311) Program. The data set produced by this collection, 
however, produces an incomplete picture of transit service in rural 
areas in cases where the service is provided by a transit system that 
is also a recipient of Section 5307 Funds. Data produced by this new 
policy will provide for a complete picture of rural transit services.

(7) Special Procedures for New Urbanized Area Definitions From the 2010 
Census

    It is anticipated the Census Bureau will publish new urbanized area 
definitions based on the 2010 Decennial Census in Spring 2012. By the 
time these definitions are published, most urbanized area transit 
systems will have already submitted their 2011 Annual Module reports, 
and many will have already received their closeout letter for this 
year. This data, however, must be used for the FY 2013 apportionment of 
formula grants, which must be conducted using the most-recently-
available urbanized area definitions from the Census Bureau. To 
accomplish this, FTA proposes the following procedures for the 2011 
Report Year.
    Transit systems reporting to the NTD will complete a B-10 
Identification Form and an FFA-10 Form as usual and submit their report 
according to the usual timelines and procedures. Once the Census Bureau 
publishes the new Urbanized Area definitions and maps, and once FTA 
updates the NTD Online Reporting System (ORS) to incorporate these new 
definitions, FTA will notify all urbanized area NTD reporters to logon 
to the NTD ORS and submit a new form addenda which will ask each system 
to confirm which of the new UZAs it serves (as suggested by FTA), to 
allocate their service among the new UZA boundaries, and to sub-
allocate their service by State for any UZA that includes portions of 
more than one State. Transit systems would not be required to resubmit 
their Chief Executive Officer Certification nor their Independent 
Auditor Statement for these report addenda. FTA also notes that in some 
rare cases, if the Census Bureau releases revisions or corrections to 
its UZA definitions that FTA may require some adjustments to the 
aforementioned report addenda, in order to reflect the most-recent UZA 
definitions. Again, this proposal is to support the FY 2013 
apportionment of urbanized area formula grants.

III. Announcement of Suspension of Personal Security Reporting

    Effective with the publication of this notice, FTA announces that 
it is temporarily suspending the reporting of personal security data on 
the S&S-50 Form of the Safety & Security Module. As part of its 
continuous evaluation of NTD reporting requirements and respondent 
reporting burden, FTA has determined that it would be prudent to 
suspend this data collection at this time, pending further review of 
its own data needs and the burden of this data collection on the 
public. FTA will seek public comment before taking action to lift this 
suspension, alter this data collection, or cancel this data collection 
permanently. Transit systems reporting to the NTD should continue to 
report ``Other Safety Occurrences Not Otherwise Classified'' (e.g. slip 
and fall/electric shock/other) on the S&S-50 Form and on the ``Number 
of Occurrences of Fire.'' All other aspects of this Form are being 
suspended. Transit systems should also continue to report on the S&S-
40: Reportable Incident Form any crime-related incident that meets the 
threshold criteria of one or more fatalities, one or more injuries, or 
an evacuation for life-safety reasons.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 24th day of September, 2010.
Peter Rogoff,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2010-24990 Filed 10-4-10; 8:45 am]
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