[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 107 (Wednesday, June 4, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 32358-32362]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-12925]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Discretionary Funding Opportunities: Prior Year Section 5309 Bus 
and Bus Facilities Program (Ladders of Opportunity Initiative)

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Funding Availability for FTA Bus and Bus Facilities 
Program, Ladders of Opportunity Initiative: Solicitation of Project 
Proposals.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
availability of prior year Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities Program 
discretionary funds for the Ladders of Opportunity Initiative in Fiscal 
Year (FY) 2014.
    FTA will make available approximately $100 million from recoveries 
from the Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities Program authorized by the 
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Public Law 109-59 and prior 
authorizations. Additional recoveries or other unallocated program 
funding may result in additional funding for proposals submitted under 
this notice.
    This notice solicits proposals to compete for funding under the 
aforementioned program and initiatives, and includes the priorities 
established by FTA for these discretionary funds, the criteria FTA will 
use to identify meritorious projects for funding, and the description 
of how to apply for funding under these discretionary programs. This 
announcement is available on the FTA Web site at: http://www.fta.dot.gov. A synopsis of this funding opportunity will be posted 
in the FIND module of the government-wide electronic grants Web site at 
http://www.GRANTS.GOV. FTA will announce final selections on the FTA 
Web site and may also announce selections in the Federal Register.

DATES: Complete proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 4, 2014; 
all proposals must be submitted electronically through the GRANTS.GOV 
APPLY function. Any agency intending to apply should initiate the 
process of registering on the GRANTS.GOV site immediately to ensure 
completion of registration before the submission deadline. Instructions 
for applying can be found on FTA's Web site at http:/www.fta.dot.govbus 
and http:/fta.dot.govcleanfuels and in the ``FIND'' module of 
GRANTS.GOV.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact the appropriate FTA Regional 
Office found at http:/www.fta.dot.gov for proposal-specific information 
and issues. For program-specific questions about applying for the 
programs outlined in this notice, please contact Sam Snead, Federal 
Transit Administration, phone: (202) 366-1089, fax: (202) 366-3475, or 
email, Samuel.Snead@dot.gov . A TDD is available at 1-800-877-8339 
(TDDFIRS).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table Of Contents

I. FTA Discretionary Program Overview
    A. Authority
    B. Policy Priorities
II. Discretionary Program Information
    A. Program Description and Purpose
    B. Eligibility Information
    C. Evaluation Criteria, Review, and Selection
III. Proposal and Submission Information for All Programs and 
Initiatives
IV. Award Administration
V. Agency Contacts and Technical Assistance

I. FTA Discretionary Program Overview

A. Authority

Bus and Bus Facilities Program
    Section 5309(b) of Title 49, United States Code, as amended by 
Section 3011 of SAFETEA-LU, authorized FTA's Bus and Bus Facilities 
program as follows: ``The Secretary may make grants under this section 
to assist State and local governmental authorities in financing . . . 
capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and 
related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities, including 
programs of bus and bus-related projects for assistance to 
subrecipients that are public agencies, private companies engaged in 
public transportation, or private non-profit organizations.''
    While this program was not continued under the Moving Ahead for 
Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), funds are still available 
under this authority as a result of lapses in allocations or 
deobligations of funds originally made available prior to enactment of 
MAP-21.

B. Policy Priorities

    Public transportation supports the development of communities, 
providing effective and reliable transportation options that increase 
access to jobs, recreation, health and social services, entertainment, 
educational opportunities, and other activities of daily life, while 
also improving mobility within and among these communities. Through 
various initiatives and legislative changes over the last fifteen 
years, FTA has allowed and encouraged projects that help integrate 
transit into a community through neighborhood improvements and 
enhancements to transportation facilities or services; make 
improvements to areas adjacent to public transit facilities that may 
facilitate mobility needs of transit users; or support other 
infrastructure investments that enhance the use of transit and other 
transportation options for the community.
    This funding opportunity is a Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, 
which is designed to invest in projects that improve the mobility of 
Americans with transportation disadvantages and allow them a better 
chance of climbing Ladders of Opportunity towards economic self-
determination. It focuses on serving groups for whom finding and 
maintaining stable, uplifting employment has long been an intransigent 
problem. The Ladders of Opportunity Initiative will invest in projects 
that fulfill the following principles:
1. Enhance Access to Work
    Improve access for Americans with transportation disadvantages 
through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational 
and training opportunities, services and other basic needs of workers.
2. Provide More Transportation Choices
    Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to 
decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation's dependence 
on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 
and promote public health.
3. Support Existing Communities
    Target Federal funding toward existing communities to increase 
community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works 
investments, and safeguard rural communities.
4. Support Economic Opportunities
    Improve economic opportunities by linking capital investments with 
local workforce development.
5. Support Partnerships
    The forming of strong federal and local partnerships to address the 
mobility challenge. This includes bringing local workforce development, 
training, education, veterans, transportation and planning

[[Page 32359]]

stakeholders together with representation of key customer groups 
(people with low-incomes, people with disabilities, youths, veterans, 
elderly populations, etc.) to formulate a plan to address building 
Ladders of Opportunity in an area. Under MAP-21, Job Access projects 
were no longer required to be included in the locally coordinated 
public transit human services transportation plan (coordinated plan). 
However, to the extent that local areas address access to economic 
opportunity consistent with the Ladders of Opportunity policy 
priorities in the coordinated planning process, eligible projects 
derived from the coordinated planning effort could be considered for 
funding in this program.

II. Discretionary Program Initiative

A. Program Description and Purpose

    This Ladders of Opportunity Initiative makes funds available to 
public transportation providers to finance capital projects to replace, 
rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct 
bus-related facilities, including programs of bus and bus-related 
projects for assistance to subrecipients that are public agencies, 
private companies engaged in public transportation, or private non-
profit organizations. Projects may include costs incidental to the 
acquisition of buses or to the construction of facilities, such as the 
costs of related workforce development and training activities, and 
project development.

B. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants
    ``Direct Recipients'' within the meaning of FTA's Section 5307 
Urbanized Area Formula program, States, or Indian Tribes are eligible 
to submit proposals for this initiative. Except for projects proposed 
by Indian Tribes, proposals for funding eligible projects in rural 
(nonurbanized) areas must be submitted as part of a consolidated State 
proposal. States and Direct Recipients may also submit consolidated 
proposals for projects in urbanized areas.
    Proposals shall contain projects to be implemented by the Recipient 
or its subrecipients. Eligible subrecipients include public agencies, 
private non-profit organizations, and private providers engaged in 
public transportation.
2. Eligible Expenses
    Projects eligible for funding are capital projects such as: 
purchase, replacement, or rehabilitation of buses and vans, bus related 
equipment (including ITS, fare equipment, communication devices); and 
replacement, construction, expansion or rehabilitation of bus-related 
facilities (including administrative, maintenance, transfer, and 
intermodal facilities), and costs incidental to these purposes. In 
order to be eligible for funding, intermodal facilities must have 
adjacent connectivity with bus service.
    Funds made available under this initiative may not be used to fund 
operating expenses, preventive maintenance, or other expanded capital 
eligibility items such as security drills or the establishment of a 
debt service reserve. However, costs incidental to the acquisition of 
buses, or construction of a facility (such as workforce development 
activities designed to ensure that current or future employees are 
properly trained in the use of the equipment or facility or project 
development related to deployment of the equipment or facility) may be 
eligible. Funds also may not be used to reimburse projects that have 
incurred previous expenses absent evidence that FTA issued a Letter of 
No Prejudice (LONP) for the project before the costs were incurred. 
Funds may not be used for projects where funds are already obligated in 
a grant. There is no blanket pre-award authority for projects to be 
funded under this announcement, although such authority will be granted 
when selected projects are identified in a subsequent Federal Register 
Notice.
3. Cost Sharing
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5309(h)(1) under SAFETEA-LU, costs will be 
shared at the following ratio: 80 percent Federal/20 percent local 
contribution. FTA will not approve deferred local share requests under 
this program. Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5323(i)(1), the Federal share may 
exceed 80 percent for certain projects related to the Americans with 
Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq.); and the Clean Air 
Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. 7401, et seq.), as follows: (1) For vehicles 
acquired for purposes of complying with the ADA or CAA the Federal 
Share is 85 percent; (2) Federal share is 90 percent for the net 
project cost of vehicle-related equipment or facilities attributable to 
compliance with the ADA or CAA. The award recipient must itemize the 
cost of specific, discrete, equipment or facility-related items being 
purchased to be in compliance with the ADA or the CAA in order to 
qualify for the Federal share of 90 percent of the cost for these 
itemized elements.
    A Federal share of 90 percent may also be applied to projects to 
provide access for bicycles to public transportation facilities, to 
provide shelters and parking facilities for bicycles in or around 
public transportation facilities, or to install equipment for 
transporting bicycles on public transportation vehicles. 49 USC 5319.

C. Evaluation Criteria, Review and Selection

1. Project Evaluation Criteria
    FTA will evaluate projects based on the proposals submitted 
according to the following criteria. Each proposer is encouraged to 
demonstrate the responsiveness of a project to all of the selection 
criteria with the most relevant information that the proposer can 
provide, regardless of whether such information has been specifically 
requested or identified in this notice. FTA will assess the extent to 
which a project addresses the following criteria.
i. Support of Ladders of Opportunity Policy Priorities
    FTA will evaluate each project to determine how it supports the 
following five Ladders of Opportunity Priniciples:
     Enhance access to work. FTA will evaluate whether the 
project will improve access for Americans with transportation 
disadvantages through reliable and timely access to employment centers, 
educational opportunities, services and other basic needs of workers.
     Provides More Transportation Choices. FTA will evaluate 
whether the project will significantly enhance user mobility through 
the creation of more convenient transportation options for travelers;
     Support Existing Communities. FTA will evaluate whether 
the project will increase community revitalization, improve the 
efficiency of public works investments or safeguard rural communities.
     Support Economic Opportunities. FTA will evaluate whether 
the project improves economic opportunities by linking capital 
investments with local workforce development.
     Support partnerships. FTA will evaluate the extent the 
applicant will form strong federal and local partnerships to address 
the mobility challenge. This includes the extent the applicant has or 
will bring local workforce development, training, education, veterans, 
transportation and planning stakeholders together with representation 
of key customer groups (people with low-incomes, people with 
disabilities, youths, veterans, elderly populations, etc.) to formulate 
a plan to address building Ladders of Opportunity in an area.

[[Page 32360]]

ii. Demonstration of Need
    FTA will evaluate each project to determine its needs for 
resources. In addition to the project-specific criteria below, this 
will include evaluating the project's impact on service delivery and 
whether the project represents a one-time or periodic need that cannot 
reasonably be funded from FTA program formula allocations or State and/
or local resources.
    a. For bus projects (replacement, rehabilitation or expansion):
     The age of the asset to be replaced or rehabilitated by 
the proposed project, relative to its useful life.
     The degree to which the proposed project addresses a 
demonstrated and verifiable backlog of deferred maintenance.
     Consistency with the proposer's bus fleet management plan.
     Condition and performance of the asset to be replaced by 
the proposed project, as ascertained through field inspections or 
otherwise, if available.
     For expansion requests, the degree to which the proposed 
project will have a significant impact on service delivery and evidence 
of need for additional capacity to address Ladder of Opportunity Policy 
priorities.
     The project conforms to FTA's spare ratio guidelines.
    b. For bus facility and equipment projects (replacement and/or 
expansion):
     The age of the asset to be rehabilitated or replaced 
relative to its useful life.
     The degree to which the proposed project addresses a 
demonstrated and verifiable backlog of deferred maintenance.
     The degree to which the proposed project will enable the 
agency to improve the maintenance and condition of the agency's fleet 
and/or other related transit assets.
     For expansion requests, the degree to which the proposed 
project addresses a current capacity constraint that is limiting the 
ability of the agency to address the policy priorities of the Ladders 
of Opportunity program that are listed above.
    c. Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization: The extent to which 
the proposed project is consistent with planning documents and local 
priorities. This will involve assessing whether:
     Project is consistent with the transit priorities 
identified in the long range plan and/or contingency/illustrative 
projects or local coordinated plan. Proposer should note if project 
could not be included in the financially constrained Transportation 
Improvement Program (TIP)/Statewide Transportation Improvement Program 
(STIP) due to lack of funding (if selected, project must be in TIP and 
STIP before grant award).
     Local support is demonstrated by availability of local 
match and letters of support for the project.
     In an area with more than one transit operator, the 
proposal demonstrates coordination with, and support of, other transit 
operators, or other related projects within the proposer's Metropolitan 
Planning Organization (MPO) or the geographic region within which the 
proposed project will operate.
    d. Project Readiness: The extent to which the project is ready to 
implement. FTA will assess whether:
     The project qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion (CE) or 
the required environmental work has been initiated or completed for 
construction projects requiring an Environmental Assessment (EA) or 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under, among others, the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.
     Project implementation plans are complete, including 
initial design of facilities projects.
     The TIP and/or STIP can be amended (evidenced by MPO/State 
endorsement).
     Project funds can be obligated and the project implemented 
quickly, if selected (within 12 months from time of award).
     The applicant demonstrates the ability to carry out the 
proposed project successfully.
     If the project is multimodal in nature, the proposal 
demonstrates coordination with and support of other transportation 
modes and partners.
    e. Technical, legal, and financial capacity to implement the 
particular project proposed: FTA will evaluate whether:
     The proposer has the technical capacity to administer the 
project.
     For fleet replacement, the acquisition is consistent with 
the bus fleet management plan.
     There are no outstanding legal, technical, or financial 
issues with the grantee that would make this a high-risk project to 
implement quickly.
     The proposer has adequate financial systems in place and 
has identified the source of local match if selected (no deferred local 
share will be allowed).
     The grantee is in fundable status for grant-making 
purposes.
2. Review and Selection Process
    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will review proposals under the project 
evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation committee and 
other involved FTA staff reserve the right to screen and rate the 
applications it receives and to seek clarification from any applicant 
about any statement in its application that FTA finds ambiguous and/or 
request additional documentation to be considered during the evaluation 
process to clarify information contained within the proposal.
    After consideration of the findings of the technical evaluation 
committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final selection and 
amount of funding for each project. Geographic diversity and the 
applicant's receipt of other discretionary awards may be considered in 
FTA's award decisions.

III. Proposal and Submission Information

A. Proposal Submission Process

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through http://www.GRANTS.GOV by the established due date. Mail and fax submissions 
will not be accepted. A complete proposal submission will consist of at 
least two files: (1) The SF 424 Mandatory form (downloaded from 
GRANTS.GOV) and (2) the supplemental form found on the FTA Web site at 
http://www.fta.gov. The supplemental form provides guidance and a 
consistent format for proposers to respond to the criteria outlined in 
this NOFA. Once completed, the supplemental form must be placed in the 
attachments section of the SF 424 Mandatory form. Proposers must use 
the correct supplemental form and attach it to their submission in 
GRANTS.GOV to successfully complete the application process. A proposal 
submission may contain additional supporting documentation as 
attachments.
    Within 24-48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive three email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV, (2) confirmation 
of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV and (3) confirmation of 
successful validation by FTA. If confirmations of successful validation 
are not received and a notice of failed validation or incomplete 
materials is received, the applicant must address the reason for the 
failed validation, as described in the notice, and resubmit before the 
submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any reason, include 
all original attachments regardless of which attachments were updated 
and check

[[Page 32361]]

the box on the supplemental form indicating this is a resubmission.
    Complete instructions on the application process can be found at 
http://www.fta.gov. Important: FTA urges proposers to submit their 
applications at least 72 hours prior to the due date to allow time to 
receive the validation message and to correct any problems that may 
have caused a rejection notification. Submissions after the stated 
submission deadlines will not be accepted. GRANTS.GOV scheduled 
maintenance and outage times are announced on the GRANTS.GOV Web site 
http://www.GRANTS.GOV. Deadlines will not be extended due to scheduled 
maintenance or outages.

B. Proposal Content

    Proposers may submit one proposal for each project or one proposal 
containing multiple projects. Proposers submitting multiple projects in 
one proposal must be sure to clearly define each project by completing 
a supplemental form for each project. Supplemental forms must be added 
within the proposal by clicking the ``add project'' button in Section 
II of the supplemental form.
    Information such as proposer name, federal amount requested, local 
match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be requested in 
varying degrees of detail on both the SF 424 form and supplemental 
form. All fields are required unless stated otherwise on the forms. Use 
both the ``Check Package for Errors'' and the ``Validate Form'' 
validation buttons on both forms to check all required fields on the 
forms. Ensure that the federal and local amounts specified are 
consistent.
1. Applicant Information
    This provides basic sponsor identifying information:
    i. Applicant name and FTA recipient ID number.
    ii. Applicant eligibility information,
    iii. A general description of services provided by the agency 
including ridership, fleet size, areas served, etc.
2. Project Information/Evaluation Criteria
    At a minimum, every proposal must:
    i. Submit an SF-424 with the correct supplemental form attached.
    ii. Describe concisely, but completely, the project scope to be 
funded. FTA may elect to fund only part of some project proposals. If 
applicable, the scope should be declared as ``scalable'' with specific 
components of independent utility clearly identified.
    iii. Address each of the evaluation criteria separately, 
demonstrating how the project responds to each criterion.
    iv. Provide a line-item budget for the total project, with enough 
detail to indicate the various key components of the project. As FTA 
may elect to fund only part of some project proposals, the budget 
should provide for the minimum amount necessary to fund specific 
project components of independent utility.
    v. Provide the Federal amount requested.
    vi. Document the matching funds, including amount and source of the 
match, demonstrating strong local or private sector financial 
participation in the project.
    vii. Provide support documentation, including financial statements, 
bond-ratings, and documents supporting the commitment of non-federal 
funding to the project, or a timeframe upon which those commitments 
would be made.
    viii. Provide a project time-line, including significant milestones 
such as the date anticipated to issue a request for proposals for 
vehicles, or contract for purchase of vehicle(s), and actual or 
expected delivery date of vehicles, or notice of request for proposal 
and notice to proceed for capital construction/rehabilitation projects.

C. Submission Dates and Times

    Complete proposals for the Ladders of Opportunity Initiative must 
be submitted electronically through the GRANTS.GOV Web site by 11:59 
p.m. EDT on August 4, 2014. Proposers are encouraged to begin the 
process of registration on the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the 
submission deadline. Registration is a multi-step process, which may 
take several weeks to complete before an application can be submitted. 
Registered proposers may still be required to take steps to keep their 
registration up to date before submissions can be made successfully: 
(1) Registration in the Central Contractor Repository (CCR) is renewed 
annually and (2) persons making submissions on behalf of the Authorized 
Organization Representative (AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by 
the AOR to make submissions.

D. Award Information

    Federal transit funds are available to Federally recognized tribes 
and State or local governmental authorities as recipients and other 
public transportation providers as subrecipients. There is no monetary 
floor or upper limit for any single grant award; however, FTA intends 
to fund as many meritorious projects as possible. In addition, 
geographic diversity and the applicant's receipt of other discretionary 
awards may be considered in FTA's award decisions. Consistent with 49 
U.S.C. Section 5309(m)(8), as amended by SAFETEA-LU, the Secretary 
shall consider the age and condition of buses, bus fleets, and bus-
related facilities and equipment of proposers in its award of Bus and 
Bus Facility grants.

E. Funding Restrictions

    Only proposals from eligible recipients for eligible activities 
will be considered for funding. Due to funding limitations, proposers 
that are selected for funding may receive less than the amount 
originally requested.

IV. Award Administration

A. Award Notices

    At the time the project selections are announced, FTA will extend 
pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no blanket pre-
award authority for these projects before announcement.

B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

1. Grant Requirements
    If selected, applicants will apply for a grant through TEAM and 
adhere to the customary FTA grant requirements of the Section 5309 Bus 
and Bus Facilities program, including those of FTA Circular 9300.1B, 
Circular 5010.1D, and the labor protections of 49 U.S.C. Section 
5333(b). All discretionary grants, regardless of award amount, will be 
subject to the Congressional Notification and release process. 
Technical assistance regarding these requirements is available from 
each FTA regional office.
2. Planning
    FTA encourages proposers to notify the appropriate State 
Departments of Transportation and MPO in areas likely to be served by 
the project funds made available under these initiatives and programs. 
Selected projects must be incorporated into the long-range plans and 
transportation improvement programs of States and metropolitan areas 
before they are eligible for FTA funding.
3. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, FTA circulars, and 
other Federal administrative requirements in carrying out any project 
supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges that it is under 
a continuing obligation to

[[Page 32362]]

comply with the terms and conditions of the grant agreement issued for 
its project with FTA. The applicant understands that Federal laws, 
regulations, policies, and administrative practices might be modified 
from time to time and may affect the implementation of the project. The 
applicant agrees that the most recent Federal requirements will apply 
to the project, unless FTA issues a written determination otherwise. 
The applicant must submit the Certifications and Assurances before 
receiving a grant if it does not have current certifications on file.
4. Reporting
    Post-award reporting requirements include submission of Federal 
Financial Reports and Milestone Reports in TEAM on a quarterly basis 
for all projects. Documentation is required for payment.

V. Agency Contacts and Technical Assistance

    Contact the appropriate FTA Regional Office at http://www.fta.dot.gov for proposal-specific information and issues. For 
general program information, please use the contacts for each program 
identified in the front of this notice. Please contact the Grants.gov 
Helpdesk for assistance with electronic applications at http://
www.grants.gov You may also contact support@grants.gov or call toll 
free (800) 518-4726.
    For additional technical assistance, FTA will post answers to 
commonly asked questions at http://ww.fta.gov. FTA also expects to 
conduct webinars during the application period and will post this 
information on its Web site.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 29th day of May, 2014.
Dorval Carter, Jr.,
General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2014-12925 Filed 6-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P