On March 14, theSenate passed S.1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) – the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion surface transportation authorization by a vote of 74 – 22.
According to the American Public Transit Assocation, here are some key amendments to the bill:
- The amendment includes a change to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) definition under the capital investment grants (New Starts/Small Starts) program. This change includes eligibility for BRT projects that have a “substantial” portion of operations within a dedicated right-of-way during peak hours, so long as the right-of-way is semi-dedicated for transit usage and physical elements are in place that reduce vehicle travel time and increase reliability. The new definition applies to future projects, and according to the committee staff, the change does not affect formulas;
- It provides for a new bus discretionary program, authorizing $75 million in general funds to serve as another source of assistance for bus capital needs beyond the new formula funds the bill makes available;
- The amendment adjusts language providing small bus system operators in urbanized areas with flexibility to use 5307 formula funds for operating assistance in a tiered system, with systems operating under 75 buses able to use up to 75 percent of their capital assistance towards operating costs, and operators of 76-100 buses able to use up to 50 percent.