Grants for Additional Public Transportation Service
65% of the funds will be put into the formula funding program for transit already set up under section 5307. 60% of these funds can go to capital and operations funds and will be appropriated according to the urbanized area population. 40% of these funds can be allocated based on growth in the state based on the census. Also, any capital project that receives federal funding will be eligible for the funding if it provides 20% of its own funding (See section e). Operating costs will only allow 50%
I worry that some of these funds might be eligible for transfer to freeways and roads. I can't tell for sure though if this is possible, but the rules set out below from the code make it possible.
In a Transportation Management Area (TMA), the MPO may elect to transfer portions of its FTA Section 5307 funds that cannot be used for operating assistance to FHWA for highway projects subject to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. §5307(b)(2).
(3) In a transportation management area designated under section 5305 (a) of this title, amounts that cannot be used to pay operating expenses under this section also are available for a highway project if—
(A) that use is approved, in writing, by the metropolitan planning organization under section 5303 of this title after appropriate notice and an opportunity for comment and appeal is provided to affected public transportation providers;
(B) the Secretary decides the amounts are not needed for investment required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.); and(C) the metropolitan planning organization in approving the use under subparagraph (A) determines that the local transit needs are being addressed.
Grants for New Public Transit Projects
This is a really cool part. 30% of the $171 Billion expected would go to fixed guideway construction (Heavy Rail, Light Rail, Streetcar, Commuter Rail, and True BRT). It's subject to the same criteria as the new starts program. Now we have a little bit to worry about here if John McCain and Mary Peters stick around because they are going to water down fixed guideway as much as they can. Earlier this year they tried to make hot lanes eligible for new starts funding as "fixed guideway". This is also pennies. $1.026 Billion per year for fixed guideway projects is the basic idea.
Grants for Efficiency at Public Transit Agencies
5% of the funds will be allocated for reducing VMT, Bike and Ped infrastructure, carpool and telecommuting programs that don't include new road capacity. Funding will be distributed based on the total GHG reductions of the project applying for funding. This could include any of the following:
(A) improvements to lighting, heating, cooling, or ventilation systems in stations and other facilities that reduce direct or indirect greenhouse‐gas emissions;
(B) adjustments to signal timing or other vehicle controlling systems that reduce direct or indirect greenhouse‐gas emissions;
(C) purchasing or retrofitting rolling stock to improve efficiency or reduce greenhouse‐gas emissions; or
(D) improvements to energy distribution systems.
Like Ryan says, we can do better. But its a small start that could and should be expanded.