The Moving Ahead for Progress for the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) features many transformative elements: a new requirement for the development by transit operators of Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans and greater authority by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to promulgate and enforce safety mandates; an emphasis on ensuring a state of good repair of transit capital assets, including the establishment of a new formula funding program specifically for recapitalization and preventive maintenance activities, as well as a requirement for transit agencies to implement transit asset management systems; and new programs for the recovery of transit after natural disasters and other emergencies, transit workforce development, and transit-oriented development. MAP-21 further consolidates several long standing formula programs, establishes new formulas for the allocation of funds, and eliminates the discretionary Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities capital program. The result of these changes is an uncertainty about the overall impacts of MAP-21 on local public transportation agencies and the services they provide. With MAP-21 due to expire as early as September 30, 2014, there is a great need to understand the strengths, weaknesses, benefits, and detriments of the Act so as to preserve what is good and correct what is not in subsequent Federal surface transportation authorizing legislation.
This report presents the results of an analysis of the long term impacts of MAP-21 on the Nation’s rural transit infrastructure. This analysis includes a review of historical (since 2006) funding levels provided by Federal, state, and local sources for rural transit, and a comparison of discretionary capital funding available under SAFETEA-LU with the new Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities formula program under MAP-21. Based upon this review, the report identifies several future funding scenarios for rural transit investment and applies these scenarios to the estimated recapitalization requirements of the Nation’s rural transit infrastructure. The study finds that – based on FTA’s annual program apportionments and National Transit Database data - historical funding levels are insufficient to meet the long term recapitalization needs of rural transit systems, and provides an estimate of the annual funding necessary to meet certain performance objectives related to the state of repair of their capital assets.