When it comes to applying for Federal Transit Administration grant funding under the Section 5307 (Urbanized Area and Passenger Ferry in Urbanized Areas), Section 5310 (Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities), and Section 5311 (Rural Areas) programs, determining the type of funds that may be used for local match can be critical, but it will require some research. The ability to use non-U.S. Department of Transportation federal funds as local match began under SAFETEA-LU in 2005 when non-DOT match funds were approved for Section 5310, Section 5311, and for the former Section 5316 (JARC) and former Section 5317 (New Freedom) programs. Under MAP-21, some Section 5316 and 5317 eligible activities were melded into the expanded Section 5310 program, and the non-DOT match allowance expanded to include the Section 5307 program.
Under SAFETEA-LU, the primary focus was use of human service funds as a local match for transit projects because, as stated in the U.S. House of Representatives report, the match leveraged the federal investment and increased “coordination among Federal agencies that provide transportation services.” [H.R. Rep. 109-203, Jul. 28, 2005]
Under subsequent federal transportation acts (i.e., MAP-21, FAST Act), community living and environmental and economic sustainability connections to transportation received increased attention, and thus, other federal agency funds were added to the mix as potential local match in addition to human services funding. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S Department of Labor, and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development are some agencies whose funds have been used as local match. For example, the Administration for Community Living, is a Health and Human Services agency that has Older Americans Act funds eligible as match and has prepared guidance on how to use ACL with FTA programs.
FTA guidance on federal and local match requirements is found in the Circulars for Section 5307, Section 5310, and Section 5311. A federal transit grant applicant should refer to Section III in each circular to determine the match requirements and eligible local sources for the three programs because requirements for local match differ from program to program. As an example, the Section 5310 Circular 9070.1, states:
“In addition, the local share may be derived from federal programs that are eligible to be expended for transportation, other than DOT programs, or from DOT’s Federal Lands Highway program. Examples of types of programs that are potential sources of local match include: employment, training, aging, medical, community services, and rehabilitation services.”
Who decides whether federal funds can be used as match for FTA programs? The answer is found in the Local Matching Funds Frequently Asked Questions on the FTA website:
“FTA leaves the determination of whether another agency’s funding may be used for local match for FTA programs to that agency. Under the laws and regulations governing that funding, however, that funding must be eligible for use in public transportation projects.”
FTA grant recipients and sub-recipients should communicate with their FTA Regional Office to determine if a particular federal-to-federal grant match is appropriate and allowable. But it is important to remember that each federal agency is different: just because another agency’s funds can be used as match does not mean that the agency in question will approve such an arrangement. For example, it is up to the U.S. Department of Labor to determine whether DOL funds may be used for transportation projects, and which DOL funds may be eligible for use as match on transportation projects.
To learn more about the match requirements of FTA grants, visit the Grant Programs page of www.transit.dot.gov. From there, you can click on a particular grant to read program circulars, determine eligible projects, and match ratios.