It’s a new year, and for state and local transportation departments, that means it’s time to start thinking about federal grants. Signed into law in November 2021, The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest federal investment in public transportation in the history of the United States. It authorizes up to $108 billion to support transportation programs from FY 2022 through 2026. With two years left, there is still plenty of time and dollars available for state and local governments to secure funding to modernize their transit systems.

In 2024, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) will focus on some key themes like innovation and technology, accessibility and inclusivity, and support for areas of persistent poverty. That means there is a significant opportunity for agencies looking for ways to fund upgrading their current systems and expand their service areas. Here’s a quick overview of these themes and some tips on how to effectively apply for funding.

Innovation and Technology in Transit

The FTA is emphasizing programs that foster innovation in the transit industry. This includes programs like Accelerating Innovative Mobility that looks to promote forward-thinking approaches to improve transit systems. This can include acquiring software that enables new service models like microtransit. The Enhancing Mobility Innovation program is another initiative rooted in technology. The program supports projects that focus on the passenger experience. This includes user-friendly software for on-demand scheduling.

Accessibility and Inclusivity in Transit

Programs like the Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility look to improve access to public transit by providing funding for projects that support ways to provide transportation to disadvantaged riders. A key part of this program is improving the coordination of non-emergency medical transportation services. Another program, Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities, specifically focuses on meeting the needs of older adults and people with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation services and expanding transportation mobility options.

Areas of Persistent Poverty

The Areas of Persistent Poverty Program is part of the President’s initiative to build a modern, equitable infrastructure. These grants are for the planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans that assist areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities. This includes new technologies designed to expand service areas or new services like transportation that helps address the opioid epidemic.

Finding and Applying for Federal Transit Grants

The best place to find grant opportunities is on the FTA’s website. Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the current programs and grants that are available. While finding grants is fairly straightforward, applying for them can be challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you apply for FTA grants.

Understand the Grant Requirements

This may seem obvious, but sometimes the name of the grant doesn’t fully capture the spirit of the grant. It’s critical that you thoroughly understand the grant’s objectives, eligibility criteria, and requirements. Grant writing is time-consuming, and you don’t want to waste time applying for a grant that you aren’t eligible for.

Collaborate and Partner

There’s strength in numbers. Bringing in other agencies, non-profits, or community organizations helps strengthen your proposal. It demonstrates community support and a broader impact of the proposed project.

Follow Submission Guidelines

Federal agencies get a lot of grant applications so you don’t want to give them a reason to deny yours. No matter how small, you need to strictly adhere to all the submission guidelines. This includes things like page limits, providing all the required documentation, and formatting guidelines.

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