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FTA works to improve criteria for evaluating major transit projects

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Building on a policy shift announced earlier this year by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the Federal Transit Administration today asked for public comment on how to change the way major transit project proposals seeking federal funding are rated and evaluated.

"Today, we begin seeking
ideas that will improve our current rating and evaluation process to ensure we
invest wisely in public transportation infrastructure projects of national
importance," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We must fairly
evaluate all advantages that a transit project may offer, including economic
development opportunities and environmental benefits."

The FTA published the
Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register on June
3, 2010. In doing so, the agency seeks public comment on how best to evaluate significant
transit infrastructure investments by looking for ways to measure
cost-effectiveness, including broad public benefits such as economic
development, land use and environmental impacts in the evaluation process.

"Major transit
improvements are at the center of President Obama’s goals to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, lower oil consumption, and improve our quality of life," said
FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "The Administration is developing criteria that
will appropriately measure all of the benefits these projects bring to their
communities. We need the public’s input to help get it done."

The rule is part of an
ongoing effort to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial
assistance in FTA’s New Starts and Small Starts programs. The first step in
this initiative came in January, when the FTA rescinded budget restrictions
issued by the Bush Administration in 2005 that focused primarily on how much a
project shortened average commute times in comparison to its cost. The goal of the
action being announced today is to take into consideration the many benefits
that transit can provide where the investment would make communities more
livable such as underserved areas or those with the densest population and

In addition to soliciting
public input on the federal government’s
docket website, the FTA is planning to hold a number of public
listening sessions.  Information concerning specific dates and locations
of these listening sessions will be issued in a future Federal Register Notice.
Input received from these meetings will be incorporated into a future proposed
rulemaking, before the rule becomes final.

FTA will host numerous
ANPRM presentations. The first two confirmed outreach forums are:

• TRB Environment and
Energy Research Conference, Raleigh, N.C., June 7.

• APTA 2010 Rail Conference
Vancouver, B. C., Canada, June 8.

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