Friday, June 25, 2010

DOT/HUD Livability Etc. Funding Sources

I am confused. It's all livability; there is funding and different programs. Are they all the same or different and what are the rules? I need to explain all of these funding opportunities to myself. Hoping that this information provides some clarity to the rest of you. This entry will also appear today in the Express Stop because my brain will not allow me to revisit the Federal Register documents again today.

Staff of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will together review applications and select grantees for some of these programs. The interagency partnership seeks to help states, regions and communities:

Develop safe, reliable, and affordable transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce energy consumption and dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
... ... ...
Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.
... ... ...
Support metropolitan areas and multijurisdictional partnerships that commit to adopt
integrated plans, strategies, and management tools to become more sustainable.
... ... ...
Facilitate strong alliances of residents and regional interest groups that are able to maintain a long-term vision for a region over time and simultaneously support progress through incremental sustainable development practices.

Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program

Department of Housing and Urban Development
$100 million available.

Not less than $25 million shall be awarded to regions with populations of less than 500,000.

Purpose: Support metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of: (1) economic competitiveness and revitalization; (2) social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; (3) energy use and climate change; and (4) public health and environmental impact. The program is calling for development and implementation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development (RPSD).

Bottom line for transit and alternative transportation programs: Transit, vanpooling, carsharing, and bike/ped accessibility fall into the The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) planning and implementation categories for transportation investment, energy conservation, and consistency with Department of Transportation (DOT) programs.

Serving marginalized populations: HUD is looking for initiatives that engage residents and stakeholders substantively and meaningfully in the development of the shared vision and its implementation early and throughout the process, including communities traditionally marginalized from such processes, while accommodating limited English speakers, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.

The application is due August 23, 2010.

There is way more and plenty of the terms mentioned are explained in detail in the NOFA. Transit and transportation are mentioned throughout and are integral to this program.

HUD's Community Challenge Planning Grants and DOT's TIGER II Planning Grants

$35 million in TIGER II planning grants as part of the National Infrastructure Investments program

DOT is referring to the grants for National Infrastructure Investments as TIGER II Discretionary Grants. The FY 2010 Appropriations Act permits DOT to use up to $35 million of the funds available for TIGER II Discretionary Grants for TIGER II Planning Grants.

Purpose: Fund the planning, preparation, or design of surface transportation projects that would be eligible for funding under the TIGER II Discretionary Grant program. Those include public transportation projects.

Bottom line for transit and alternative transportation programs: The two types of transit and transportation-related planning projects that the TIGER II planning grants envision are (1) Planning activities related to the development of a particular transportation corridor or regional transportation system, that promotes mixed-use, transit-oriented development with an affordable housing component; or developing expanded public transportation options, including accessible public transportation and para-transit services for individuals with disabilities, to allow individuals to live in diverse, high opportunity neighborhoods and communities and to commute to areas with greater employment and educational

Pre-applications are due by July 26, 2010.

DOT TIGER II Discretionary Grant Program

Pay attention to the specific information in the
for rural areas.

Minimum $10 million grant size, except for projects located in rural areas (as defined in section V (Projects in Rural Areas)), the minimum TIGER II Discretionary Grant size is $1 million.

Not less than $140 million of the funds provided for TIGER II Discretionary Grants are to be used for projects in rural areas. Also, 100 percent funding is only available in rural areas; 80 percent is the federal share otherwise.(For purposes of this grant, "DOT will consider a project to be in a rural area if ‘all or a material portion of a project is located in a rural area’. ... DOT will only consider a material portion of a project to be located in a rural area if the majority of the project is located in a rural area.)"

Up to $150 million of the $600 million available for TIGER II Discretionary Grants may be used for TIGER II Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 (TIFIA) Payments.

Purpose: DOT is looking for long-term outcomes that include livability, economic competitiveness, job creation, state of good repair, safety, environmental sustainability. An emphasis is put on innovation and partnerships - "the project’s involvement of non-Federal entities and the use of non-Federal funds."

Again, there is explanatory material in the NOFA and read the details. Concepts such as livability and economic competitiveness are defined in detail. Rural areas are considered to have underserved populations. Others are also discussed.

Bottom line for transit and alternative transportation programs: This is an opportunity friendly to transit, bike/ped modes and other alternative transportation. There is great room for flexibility, creativity and coordination.

Pre-applications are due July 16, 2010. The NOFA only mentions DOT as reviewing the applications and not HUD and EPA.


PolicyLink, Smart Growth America, Reconnecting America, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the National Housing Conference will co-host a special informational webinar to discuss the HUD elements of the regional planning program next Wednesday, June 30th from 3-5 pm Eastern Time (noon-2 pm Pacific time).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Working with Low Literacy Populations

Thanks to Jane Hardin of the Community Transportation Association of America for recommending an excellent resource for including people who either are unable to read well or are not fluent English speakers, whether or not they read in their native languages. Low literacy is generally a marker for low income populations and populations that need workforce and human services assistance.

How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations
, issued by the Federal Highway Administration in 2006, is ostensibly geared toward transportation-oriented community participation, but can be used for any type of community participation effort in which low literacy and non-English speakers should be involved.

The FHWA report explores what is meant by low literacy and how to detect its subtle signs. People are often ashamed of their inability to read and communicate in English. They have practiced ways of hiding illiteracy. Utilizing people in the community who know the culture is helpful as is being aware of the subtle clues of illiteracy.

The report offers a multitude of methods for reaching people who do not read well, including places to go, people to use, and ways to operate a meeting. These methods will allow people who are illiterate to participate fully and on par with better educated populations.

Though the FHWA report is a few years old, it provides the best material I have seen that addresses the specific issue of including low literacy community members.

Thanks again to Jane for mentioning this resource at our last meeting of the Technical Assistance Provider Network.

Community Schools Become Community Centers

On our horizon should be the expanding Community Schools movement, which does for human services and education what many in our network do for transportation - use coordination to create or improve access to services.

A community school houses more than the students, teachers and accoutrement of education. Depending on the needs and wants of the community, and they exist at all income levels, some have community classes (such as dance and cooking), medical and dental care, welfare, literacy, housing, other human services and employment counseling, training and services.

Funding Available

The Department of Education has $10 million available for the Full-Service Community Schools program, with approximately 10 new awards of $480,000 to $500,000. Academic supports are emphasized in the program description. Relevant to transportation, also mentioned are "activities that improve access to and use of social service programs and programs that promote family financial stability."

Relevant to our networks, activities specified are "youth development programs; community service and service learning opportunities; programs that provide assistance to students who have been chronically absent, truant, suspended, or expelled; job training and career counseling services; nutrition services and physical activities; primary health and dental care; activities that improve access to and use of social service programs and programs that promote family financial stability; mental health services; and adult education, including instruction of adults in English as a second language."


An eligible applicants is a consortium of a local educational agency and one or more community-based organizations, non-profit organizations, or other public or private entities.

The deadline for applications is July 23, 2010.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Need for Technical Assistance for Aging Populations

Transportation: The Silent Need, a report from the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST), outlines the tremendous unmet demand for older adults. The paucity of service is especially acute in rural areas.

As I have heard from Mary Leary, Senior Director of Easter Seals Project ACTION, and Jane Hardin, Transportation Specialist at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), transportation provides older adults with a life of spontaneity and social interaction as well as meeting the fundamental needs of access to food and medical care. Yet, as the NCST shows in the results of its survey of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), more than half of older adults find it challenging to obtain transportation for everything except medical care, which clocks in at just under 50 percent. These activities included grocery shopping, participation in religious institutions, entertainment, and visiting family and friends.

While there is a wide array of programs in the family of services, many are unavailable in a majority or even a quarter of AAA service areas. Door-to-door and volunteer driver programs exist in 50 to 60 percent of jurisdictions, but door-through-door, travel training, pedestrian access, and driver transition programs all come in at under 20 percent. And these numbers refer to availability and not whether the programs are able to meet demand.

Only fixed-route transportation approached 80 percent and that statistic did not speak about safety, depth of service, service hours or pedestrian access. In rural areas that number is approximately 60 percent.

The vast majority of AAA staff who responded said that transportation was either somewhat coordinated or that coordination was "improving." Very few gave high or low marks.

This report was the first in an NCST series that will examine senior transportation in Indian country, transportation for older diverse populations, and senior mobility and livable communities.

Please note that this post will also be appearing in the Express Stop, an occasional consequence of having two blogs with overlapping coverage.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Livability and Accessibility

I admit to being early on the smart growth bandwagon and happy to see the concept morph into the more-inclusive livability/sustainability collaboration that is the inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, among the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From what I hear, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are also coordinating with the partnership at various levels.

The current manual of funding sources among the partnership agencies is Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD, and EPA Programs for Sustainable Communities. Many of the sources can be used for transit and other mobility options, including designing a street scape that improves access to buses, vanpool meeting areas, trains and biking facilities.

Since our technical assistance centers have been involved with livability since before the term was invented, many of us are educating our constituencies about livability resources that will bring and enhance transit service and transportation options to communities across the country.

Upcoming Livability-Related Events Among the TA Centers

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Livability 101 Pre-conference on July 25, 2010, right before the Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky. The Transportation Committee will be concentrating as well on high-speed rail, the link between transportation and health, biking and rural road safety.

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA): Forming Partnerships with Transit for human service providers, disability community advocates and private transportation providers – online from Aug. 2 to Sept. 10, 2010.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA): State Public Transit Partnerships Conference on Aug. 3-6, 2010 in Seattle will have a livability session.

Access and Universal Design

Livability encompasses availability of transportation options beyond the automobile. To include everyone in the benefits of livable community initiatives raises issues of universal design, rural access and specialized transportation. The following resources and events address those issues and their links to economic development,equitable access for transportation-challenged populations, and costs.

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) continues to assist the transit community to make people with disabilities welcome. A handy Transit Operator’s Pocket Guide informs drivers of their ADA responsibilities and etiquette for interacting with people with disabilities.

ESPA: Excellence in Service for Paratransit Managers - online from July 19 to Sept. 24, 2010.

Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA) releases Assessing the Full Cost of Implementing An Accessible Taxicab Program. The report discusses how the taxi industry works in terms of the practical obstacles and costs of providing accessibility where the additional costs fall on mostly small businesses and independent contractors.

Rural Accessibility

For rural transportation and economic development resources, the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) has a Rural Transportation Clearinghouse. Among the resources available are descriptions of how rural planning organizations operate in different states.

National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference on October 24-27, 2010, in Burlington, Vt. Conference sessions will include accessibility, rural transit policy and planning, alternative fuels, regional systems, networks and coalitions, and tribal transportation.

ADA Takes the Ferry

Finally, with a picture of the Staten Island Ferry, the Secretary of Transportation blogs today about extending ADA protection to maritime vessels, including public ferry service. In, Secretary LaHood "encourage[s] everyone to visit and get their two cents in on the important questions" outstanding about this ADA extension.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A New Employment Transportation Toolkit

This resource is from the The Community Transportation Association of America.

CTAA's Joblinks Employment Transportation Initiative announces the launch of its Transportation Toolkit for the Business Community. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood praises the toolkit as a timely resource for tough economic times.

The toolkit provides businesses with strategies and resources that meet employee commuting needs while advancing bottom-line goals. Included are flyers, fact sheets, resources and examples of transportation initiatives undertaken by employers nationwide.

The toolkit website is organized into four areas: Good for Business, Getting to Work, Going Green and Accessible Transportation.

Other resources and assistance available from Joblinks:
1. Archive of Joblinks webinars, including, but not limited to, (1) late night transportation service strategies, (2) mobility management assistance in connecting job-seekers and other community members with transportation; (3) voucher programs, and (4) commuter tax benefits.
2. Transportation voucher programs wiki
3. Transportation Solutions Coordinator training
4. Institute for Transportation Coordination

Please contact Sheryl Gross-Glaser ( with news of technical assistance resources that may be helpful for other technical assistance providers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Resources and Events Useful to the Disability Community

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) continues to assist the transit community to make people with disabilities welcome. A handy Transit Operator’s Pocket Guide informs drivers of their ADA responsibilities and etiquette for interacting with people with disabilities.

ESPA events coming up:
Excellence in Service for Paratransit Managers - online from July 19to Sept. 24, 2010.
Forming Partnerships with Transit for human service providers, disability community advocates and private transportation providers – online from Aug. 2 to Sept. 10, 2010.

Send your transportation TA news to Sheryl Gross-Glaser at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In a Nutshell - the Draft DOT Strategic Plan

The 74-page Department of Transportation Draft Strategic Plan is DOT’s first ever draft plan and the agency invites the public to comment on its proposals.

A Bird’s Eye View of the Draft Plan:

The terms that come to mind after reading the entire draft plan are livability, multi-modal, transportation choices and environmental friendliness – or the actual term used, sustainability. Pedestrians, bicyclists as well as the National Complete Streets coalition should be pleased as these three interests are woven into the fabric of DOT’s vision for livable communities with good transportation options beyond the automobile.

Public transportation is featured prominently. It is seen as a safe travel choice and as one that promotes our national goals of reducing reliance on foreign fuel, reducing congestion and improving our environment. Human services transportation is recognized as a big contributor to livability for people who are transportation challenged and wish to remain in their homes.

Not at all mentioned are the privately-run and publicly available modes of taxis (the original guaranteed ride home) and intercity bus service, which complement public transportation and the zero-emission modes of biking and walking. High-speed rail, perhaps because of the crucial role of federal funding, is mentioned, though not given too much space.


Big endorsement of complete streets. According to DOT, this is a safety issue to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and "walking school buses." Included in the safety recommendations:

Work with State and local governments to provide more technical assistance such as the application of pedestrian and bicycle safety audits to ensure that transportation systems are designed for optimum safety for all users.

The corresponding performance measure? Increase in number of localities that adopt complete streets policies and have safe routes to school programs. No recommendations of specific measures, except a cited Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study that found that "sidewalks, raised medians, turning access controls, better bus stop placement, better lighting, traffic calming measures, and treatments for disabled travelers" protect all users - pedestrians, bicyclists as well as drivers and their passengers. Does this mean less right on red, more traffic signals, and more scramble intersections?

No mention is made of some type of “Safe Routes for Seniors” program or initiative for people with disabilities. People who are physically challenged tend to walk across intersections more slowly and their bodies are fragile when they are hit, making them more prone to serious physical injuries and death.


Recalling Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s blog entry from several months ago, describing a weekend getaway to friends in Hoboken N.J., including a night out in the city, this is a man who was happy to walk, take the train, and leave the car at home for the whole weekend. His department wants to assist communities in affording multi-modal and healthy, environmentally friendly transportation choices to Americans wherever possible.

Livable communities gets its own section of the draft plan. DOT calls for "place-based policies and investments that increase transportation choices and access to transportation services." DOT expressly wants improved public transit, human services transportation (mentioning the special needs populations and people with disabilities), and better bike/pedestrian networks. The plan envisions transportation coordination with land use and economic development.

The plan directly links the auto-dependent lifestyle to national insecurity and ill health.

A study is cited showing that people who live in compact, walkable communities are more fit and healthy than those who reside in counties with more sprawl. The connection between health and the transportation network is explicitly made and discussed in detail. The plan practically comes out and says that the 40 percent of trips that are two miles or less in length should be able to be made by walking or bicycle, but that our current street network does not allow this - despite studies showing that young adults and baby boomers want to live in walkable neighborhoods and towns.

In case you think DOT is talking about New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, or a few others, the plan specifically includes rural areas and their desperate need for alternatives to the car.

Creating livable communities is just as important to residents of rural areas as it is to residents of urban and suburban areas. Rural town centers have experienced disinvestment in much the same way as urban core areas and many rural towns are fighting to attract local commercial development through the revitalization of town centers. Rural residents generally must travel greater distances to jobs and services than their urban counterparts and can suffer from greater isolation, especially if they cannot drive.

The DOT-HUD-EPA partnership is already identifying barriers to coordinating transportation, housing, and environmental policies and investments. The three agencies are coordinating and bringing resources together for each others' programs, such as EPA's Smart Growth Technical Assistance Program, HUD’s Sustainable Communities Planning Grants, designed to fund regional, coordinated planning, and "evaluation of DOT’s TIGER Discretionary Grant applications, for which livability and sustainability are two key criteria."

DOT sees livability as a way to reduce household transportation costs through the availability of alternative mobility choices, such as transit, biking and walking.

And what is DOT envisioning to help states, regions and communities become more livable? Providing technical assistance, advocating for "robust State and local planning efforts," spending transportation dollars where they will capitalize on public and private infrastructure investment, and developing livability performance measures.

Specific strategies that DOT plans to use are increasing access to transit and inter-city services, developing pedestrian and bike-friendly street networks, "where practical" providing better rural transit for access to jobs, services and transportation centers that are currently only automobile accessible, and encouraging mixed-income development, for which DOT has already funded a technical assistance MITOD guide through Reconnecting America.

DOT's plan seems almost ashamed that although walking and biking account for account for "almost 12 percent of trips and about 13 percent of roadway fatalities, these modes receive less than 2 percent of annual Federal Aid Highway funds."


DOT embraces CCAM, which seeks to coordinate the many transportation programs dispersed throughout the federal bureaucracy. Explicitly mentioned for continued federal support are:
* Local coordinating councils,
* One-call services - "single point of access that links human services with transportation providers to address the special mobility needs of persons with disabilities, older adults, low-income persons and others without ready access to automobiles,"
* ITS to assist human service transportation via transportation management centers (such as the Mobility Services for All Americans - MSAA - program), and
* "[T]echnical assistance and training activities to improve the operations of local public and non-profit community transportation providers."

With no discussion, the plan directly ties CCAM's work and the technical assistance and local efforts mentioned above to DOT's livability initiative. Mobility for vulnerable transportation-challenged populations is considered a livable communities issue that is part of DOT's overarching mission. Connecting CCAM’s work to the major goal at three federal agencies (DOT, HUD and EPA) will lend gravitas to the Council’s efforts and allows it to fit in with the Administration’s emphasis on federal cooperation and coordination.

The plan delves into the performance measures for CCAM's assistance to states, regions and communities. These include:
* Increase in "transit seat-miles by urbanized area transit systems,"
* Increase in non-urbanized area transit trips,
* Increase in "intermodal transportation options for travelers,"
* Improved transit reliability,
* Improved walking and biking networks - a Federal Highway Administration task,
* Improved ADA access on rail and buses for people with disabilities.

DOT acknowledges that there will be resistance to the livability agenda and its vision of a multi-modal future. Housing, land use design, roads and other infrastructure are investments that last a generation, the plan recognizes, and many communities and states are not accustomed to thinking in terms of sidewalks, bike paths, distances between residential and commercial areas, or connectivity among transportation modes.


DOT sets ambitious goals to reduce emissions and “air, water and noise pollution and impacts on ecosystems;” establish environmentally sustainable practices that address global climate change; and promote energy independence. These challenges require new transportation solutions, DOT declares in the proposed plan.

The agency does not hesitate to lay out the environmentally awful statistics and the transportation sector’s role in contributing to them.

Of course the draft strategic plan offers proposals for air and automobile travel, but in terms of public transportation, the plan imagines coordinated federal environmental policies and programs through the interagency DOT-HUD-EPA partnership, high-speed rail (though no one is talking about something akin the China’s mega investments), multi-modal strategies, reducing the energy consumption of transit, and encouraging state and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), such as councils of governments (COG), to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To accomplish the goals for reducing energy consumption, reducing greenhouse emissions, and reducing our national dependence on foreign oil, the draft strategic plan is proposing that public transportation systems continue to take advantage of the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Discretionary Grant (TDG) program, which is already at work replacing older fuel-eating facilities and vehicles with more environmentally-friendly models, buildings, and innovative technologies.


Acknowledging that I am not an expert in this area, the proposals seem logical, but most could have been written in 1940. In non-specific language, the plan discusses preparing for continuity of operations, developing security policies, coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (yes that would have been a different agency in 1940), and dealing with the youngest potential danger on the block, cyber threats.

The plan recommends grants and technical assistance to plan and train for “effective emergency response to transportation incidents involving hazardous materials” and to provide for the improvement of state and local response to emergencies.

Virtually no specifics are given and no performance measures are proposed. Admittedly, with potential and actual emergencies covering a wildly broad spectrum of dangers, preventive procedures and responses, there is little this a strategic plan could say without launching into a 50-page manual on this topic alone. But then fewer people would read the proposed plan than are reading the current 74-page document.

Remember that DOT comment invites the public to comment on its proposals. Read the draft plan sections that interest you and express your thoughts about the draft strategic plan.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Different Communities, Different Transportation Options and Marketing

Back from EXPO and your eyes are wandering from the your computer screen? Watch a job-related video or two.

Now, nothing works like quality, whether in public transit, vanpooling or a good pedestrian-friendly street network, but promoting those quality services is also important.

Idaho is promoting transit and transportation options beyond the single occupancy vehicle. With its i-way video, Idaho is showing its residents alternatives that work for people who are transportation challenged as well as those who would like to get out of their cars.

Boulder, Colo., voted high for livability and farmers markets, has a nice little film about coordination, advocacy, and volunteer work that over 20 years has produced a bike-able (and walkable)small city. This film is about collective priorities and how to achieve results as much as it is about transforming into a bike-oriented community.

So, relax, take out the popcorn, and be productive.

APTA Points to 10 Reasons People Use Public Transportation

APTA's recent edition of its newsletter, Public Transport, linked to a Montreal Gazette article that listed the top 10 reasons why people in the City of Windsor, right across the border from Detroit, take public transit.

No surprise that cost considerations topped the list and that the desire to be good environmental citizens appeared, but other reasons included my grandfather's favorite, napping on the bus or train, time to catch up on reading, and chore and errand preparation (writing up shopping lists are safely done on the bus). For me the surprises showed that public transit can attract everyone on the economic ladder, from the transportation-challenged to the folks with a Porsche parked in the driveway. Above environmental concerns were comfort and convenience, less stress than driving, and, ranking somewhat lower, the rare opportunity to do absolutely nothing.

Last on the list and therefore squeaking into the top 10? Exercise to and from the stop or station.

In that vein, I will make this a little longer post by promoting the Fast Company post about designing bus stops that are attractive and useful, with route and waiting information clearly posted.