5310 and 5311 formula grants are transportation funding opportunities passed from federal to state to local governments. Formula grants use—you guessed it—formulas to calculate the eligibility of applicants and the distribution of funds. The purpose of 5310 and 5311 is to empower mobility by reducing the operational and capital costs of transit providers. What's the difference between 5310 and 5311?

5310 formula grants assist private nonprofit groups in meeting the transportation needs of older adults and people with disabilities.  Both, urban and rural organizations, can qualify. 5310 funding is primarily used for capital projects (e.g., buses, transit software, etc.) or training, but this is left to each state's discretion. With a larger applicant pool, 5310 grants tend to be significantly more competitive.

5311 formula grants are specifically for rural areas with fewer than 50,000 residents. These grants provide capital, planning, and operating assistance to qualifying public transportation agencies. As a rule, the 5311 funding is awarded to one provider per county/region. Since these are allocated on a region by region basis, 5311 grants can be less competitive. Often, if you qualify, you are already receiving this type of funding.

As you know, transit agencies incur a significant amount of operational costs every year.  These include costs for: fuel, vehicle maintenance, payroll expenses, building expenses, office supplies and you guessed it – annual maintenance for software! 

These costs impact the service agencies can provide.  The transit agencies using 5310 & 5311 funding are influencing economic development, healthcare outcomes, education, retail and general quality of life.

Effective Use of Funding

As mentioned previously, formula grants use statistical criteria to calculate who they fund and how much they are awarded. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) derives these grants and they determine how to distribute them. Their criteria include land area, population, the percentage of low income, percentage of disabled, percentage of seniors, etc.

Good scheduling software can help you reduce your costs by routing more efficiently and increasing shared ride possibilities.  This reduces wear and tear on vehicles, fuel consumption, driver and admin staff time, and sometimes passengers make new friends along their routes.


Reporting and Maintenance

Graphs and Reports from Transportation Software

Once applicants secure funding, they are required to submit a National Transit Database (NTD) report to the FTA or perhaps to their State officials.  I haven’t met a single transit staff person who enjoys completing a National Transit Database (NTD) report.  They can be grueling!  Ecolane offers this reporting functionality and more, including the ability to generate other productivity reports that dig deep into the agency’s operations and ensures standards are being upheld.  Also, if there is a discrepancy or void, it’s a lot easier to spot and address.


5310 and 5311 grants reduce the burdens transit agencies bear thereby creating benefits for citizens and the societies in which they reside. These funds, while beneficial, require a lot of work to maintain. With Ecolane, we give you the tools for all levels of staff to provide oversight needed for GREAT customer service as well as required reporting to continue to receive those funds and meet your agencies goals and expectations. Request a free demo and see for yourself.
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About the Author:

headshots12Susan’s role encompasses all aspects of the pre-sales and post sales activities on behalf of Ecolane prospects and customers. This includes comprehensive account management beyond the initial implementation. Susan’s 18-year career in transportation has included business development and operations for transportation operators. Prior to joining Ecolane, Susan served as a Program Director for Coles County Council on Aging. Susan helped the agency grow through business development, meaningful marketing strategy and her grant writing skills. Her commitment to public transportation especially in the rural areas has been key to her success.