[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 166 (Thursday, August 27, 1998)]
[Pages 45926-45928]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-23146]

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Part IV

Department of Transportation


Federal Transit Administration


Job Access and Reverse Commute Program; Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 63, No. 166 / Thursday, August 27, 1998 / 

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Federal Transit Administration
[Docket # FTA-98-4343]

Job Access and Reverse Commute Program

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Department of Transportation is seeking public advice in 
implementing the Jobs Access and Reverse Commute Program authorized in 
Section 3037 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century 
(TEA-21). This notice also includes questions regarding the 
implementation of the Job Access/Reverse Commute Program. Responses to 
the questions posed are invited.
DATES: Comments must be submitted by September 18, 1998.

ADDRESS: Comments should be sent to the Department of Transportation, 
Docket # FTA-98-4343, Central Docket Office, PL-401, 400 Seventh 
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Birnie, Program Manager, (202) 


Program Preparation

    The U.S. Department of Transportion (DOT) intends to complete a 
program solicitation and guidelines by October 1, when FY 1999 funding 
becomes available. Funding availability in early FY 1999 will ensure 
that assistance provided pursuant to Section 3037 of TEA-21 may be 
applied in a timely fashion to support regional programs creating Job 
Access and Reverse Commute services. Limited funding, particularly in 
the initial years of the program, may affect funding availability for 
some applications.
    Although implementing guidelines for the Job Access & Reverse 
Commute program are being developed, prospective applicants should 
review the legislative criteria as a guide to the preparation of 
programs for funding. Please note that the Job Access & Reverse Commute 
funding is predicated on the development of local partnerships. A 
collaborative transportation/human services planning process must be 
established to develop Job Access programs. This process should involve 
agencies implementing welfare and work force development programs, non-
profit community based and faith-based organizations, stakeholder 
representatives, employers and a variety of existing transportation 
providers and agencies. In larger urban areas, Metropolitan Planning 
Organizations (MPO) will select applicants and in smaller urbanized and 
rural areas, states will select applicants. The programs that are 
developed are to be regional in nature, although portions of the 
program can be targeted to specific areas within the region. An area 
may have one designated recipient for funds, but these funds may be 
passed to any number of subrecipients. An operating partnership 
involving consultation and use of existing public, private and non-
profit transportation providers, including the area transit agency, is 
expected. Using the existing transportation infrastructure reduces 
start-up costs and enhances service sustainability. Finally, a 
financial partnership is encouraged among the stakeholders. The Job 
Access and Reverse Commute program requires a 50/50 match. This program 
is considered catalytic funding upon which to assemble additional human 
service, transportation and private resources to meet job access 
transportation needs.
    Funding from other Federal programs may be used as match dollars. 
These include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and 
Community Services Block grants through the U.S. Department of Health 
and Human Services (HHS) and Welfare to Work (WtW) grants through the 
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as well as the U.S. Department of 
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant 
and HOPE VI Grants. TANF and WtW grants, when used as match, may be 
used only for new and expanded transportation services and cannot be 
used for construction or to subsidized current transportation operating 
expenses. Such funds also must supplement rather than supplant other 
State expenditures on transportation. Other transportation funds 
allocated to transportation agencies by DOT may also be used to address 
these transportation needs.

Public Consultation

    DOT in conjunction with its other Federal partners desires to 
develop a Job Access & Reverse Commute program that is responsive to 
the needs of the stakeholders who are implementing welfare reform and 
transportation activities. We are seeking your advice on the questions 
listed below and other issues related to the implementation of the 
program. Although we will not be able to respond directly to individual 
comments, we will address collectively the comments received when we 
issue the national program solicitation and guidelines. For the 
convenience of those individuals and organizations with computer access 
to the internet, you may submit your written comments to FTA home page 
web site, which may be reached at--http://www.fta.dot.gov/wtw/japc.
    Additionally, any public interest organization seeking to elaborate 
upon its views with Departmental officials may request a meeting. 
Please contact Ms. Corine Hegland, U.S. Department of Transportation at 
(202) 366-8850.

Program Purpose

    The Jobs Access and Reverse Commute Program provides competitive 
grants to local governments and non-profit organizations to develop 
transportation services to connect welfare recipients and low-income 
persons from their residence to employment and support services.

Program Features

    Section 3037 of TEA-21 authorizes a Job Access and Reverse Commute 
program. Job Access projects provides transportation services to 
connect welfare recipients and low-income persons to jobs and 
activities related to employment. Reverse Commute projects provides the 
public transportation services to the general public that provide 
connections to suburban employment centers from urban centers, rural 
areas and other suburban locations.
     Criteria for selection include indication of the need for 
additional services as identified in the transportation plan and 
explanation of the extent to which services will address these needs.

Funding Features

     Split funded from both the Mass Transit Account and 
General Funds.
     Guaranteed funding (Mass Transit Account & general 
revenues) increases from $50 million in 1999 to $150 million in 2003.
     Not more than $10 million per year may be used for reverse 
commute activities.
     Provides 50% Federal share.
     Other Federal transportation-eligible funds could be used 
to meet the local match, including TANF and WtW funding for Access to 
Jobs projects.

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                                      Job Access and Reverse Commute Grants                                     
                                                  [In millions]                                                 
                                                              1998     1999     2000     2001     2002     2003 
Total Authorization.......................................        0     $150     $150     $150     $150     $150
Guaranteed................................................        0       50       75      100      125      150

Grant Award Factors

     The percentage of population that is welfare recipients.
     The need for additional services and the extent to which 
the proposed services will address those needs.
     Coordination with and use of existing transportation 
     Coordination with state welfare agencies implementing the 
TANF program.
     Use of innovative approaches.
     The presence of a regional plan and long term financing 
     Consultation with the community to be served.
     The need for additional services identified in the 
regional transportation plan for reverse commute.

Eligible Costs

     Operating and capital expenses for Job Access 
transportation service.
     Funds promotion of employer-provided transportation, use 
of transit for non-traditional and transit voucher programs.

Eligible Applicants

     Local governments, non-profit organizations, and 
designated recipients [defined under 49 U.S.C. Section 5307(a)(2)].
     MPOs would designate applicants in urbanized areas above 
200,000 population; states (state's chief executive officer) would 
designate applicants in urbanized areas of 200,000 population or lower 
and rural areas.

Job Access and Reverse Commute Program Implementation Questions

Funding Distribution & Program Focus

    1. In FY 1999, funding for the Job Access/Reverse Commute Program 
may be limited to $50 million. In light of funding constraints, what 
grant award strategy should be pursued? Should there be maximum or 
minimum grant sizes? Should grants vary by the size of the region, 
e.g., major areas with populations over one million, areas between 
200,000 and one million, areas between 50,000 and 200,000, non-
urbanized rural areas?
    2. Should grants to support local Job Access programs be made on an 
annual basis or on a multi-year basis covering several years worth of 
local activity? Annual multi-year financial grant commitments must be 
made subject to the availability of congressional appropriations.
    3. Should Job Access and Reverse Commute funding be considered as 
one program where applicants can elect to reserve a percentage of their 
funds for reverse commute services--not tied to welfare recipients or 
low income person? Or, should the two components be treated as separate 
programs operating independently?
    4. What steps should FTA take to encourage a broad range of groups, 
not limited to its normal mass transit partners, to participate in this 

Eligibility Criteria

    1. The legislation requires that all grants be subject to the terms 
and conditions of FTA's Formula (Section 5307) Program such as the 
Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, labor protections and 
others. In light of these requirements, what obstacles does this 
present for non-traditional grant recipients? What actions, e.g., 
receiving funding as grantee subrecipients, are possible to ensure the 
participation of non-traditional recipients in the program?
    2. The legislation allows FTA to fund capital and operating costs 
and clearly is directed to the development of new and expanded Job 
Access and Reverse Commute services. In addition, one of the factors 
for consideration in grant award criteria is the need for additional 
    What activities and services should be included as eligible? Should 
any activities or services be specifically excluded?
    Welfare block grants (TANF & WtW) and other DOT funds can be used 
to purchase transit passes for welfare recipients and low income 
persons on existing transit routes and services. Should Job Access and 
Reverse Commute also be available to fund transit passes?
    3. What criteria should be used for screening candidates? The 
legislation spells out eight (8) factors that must be considered in 
awarding grants (see program description). Do these factors need 
additional definition? How should they be weighted in the rating 
process? Are there other criteria that should be addressed? Certain 
populations suffer disproportionate unemployment rates. How should 
these ``hard-to-serve'' populations be treated in the Job Access and 
Reverse Commute Program?

Planning and Evaluation

    1. The Job Access and Reverse Commute Program provides funding for 
initiating programs whose long-term viability will depend upon 
coordinating services and programming traditional sources of funding. 
This will necessitate coordinating and integrating the Job Access and 
Reverse Commute Program with existing DOT, DHHS, DOL and HUD funding 
programs. What issues arise in achieving the blending of resources from 
several Federal programs? What incentives and assurances could be 
provided to facilitate this?
    2. The legislation requires that MPOs select applicants within 
urbanized areas with populations over 200,000 and that states select 
applicants for urbanized areas with populations at or below 200,000, as 
well as rural areas. How should this selection process by MPOs and 
states take place and what documentation of participation should be 
required to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in project 
selection and development? In particular, how should low income 
community representatives be involved in developing plans? Should sign-
offs be required?
    3. The legislation has a number of planning requirements for the 
Job Access/Reverse Commute Program. For example, applicants must 
document a regional transportation plan and any project must be 
developed by a coordinated Transportation/Human Services planning 
    Should applicants address each requirement separately or together? 
What evidence of a collaborative decisionmaking process at the local 
level among transportation, employment and other human service 
organizations would satisfy these requirements?

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    4. The legislation has a number of coordination requirements. 
Applicants must coordinate with the state agency that administers the 
state welfare program. Applicants also must coordinate with affected 
transit grant recipients and receive approval of such grant recipients. 
What guidance should be given? How should this be documented?
    5. The General Accounting Office must evaluate the effectiveness of 
this program every six months, while DOT must prepare an evaluation 
report within two years. What specific performance measures should DOT 
use in assessing the effectiveness of this program? How could such data 
be obtained and reported?

[Examples might include the number of additional jobs that became 
accessible with reasonable commute times, the number of new riders or 
new services, or some combination of the two, and area coverage by time 
    6. What other comments or suggestions can you provide to ensure a 
successful Job Access/Reverse Commute Program?

    Issued: August 25, 1998.
Gordon J. Linton,
[FR Doc. 98-23146 Filed 8-25-98; 12:22 pm]