Several days ago, our newspaper ran an article on a trio of local "Ghosthunters" who track down spirits in people's homes and buildings for
free. The photo showed two men & one women armed with cameras, sensors & cooper divining rods. After MAP-21 takes effect, I suggest a new line of paranormal inquiry - finding evidence of coordination between public transit and human services agencies, especially in the FTA Section 5307 program.
The July 2012 Mobility Management News includes this description
of the federal requirement for coordination:
"Coordination with human services will remain a requirement for FTA grantees across the range of all non-rail FTA programs. Coordination with human services continues to be a requirement of statewide and metropolitan transportation planning, and coordination of service delivery continues to be a requirement in all three core FTA grant programs as authorized by MAP-21: Section 5307, 5310 and 5311."
I believe these two sentences are completely true. Alas, they also begin
our ghost story.
FTA Section 5307 is a good program to focus on because
the urban formula funds flow to a local Designated Recipient and every three years FTA conducts a Triennial Review on local compliance with federal regulations.
Under MAP-21, JARC projects, like all Sec 5307 projects,
will be the product of the Designated Recipient's process of consultation "with interested parties, including private transportation providers". The Recipient shall ensure proposed projects provides for coordinating public transportation services with other federally supported transportation services. With MAP-21, there is no longer a federal requirement for a Coordinated Public Transit- Human Services Transportation Plan for JARC projects.
Surely our sensors and divining rods are beeping and twirling at the above paragraph. But, the closer we come our devices fall silent and we are in the murky shadows of the Program of Projects (Sec 5307 (b), p 40).
Now, how many of you really know how your local Program of Projects is created and by whom? Is the process transparent? Do you even know when it occurs? Does it "ensure" coordination? What documentation does the FTA ask for in a Triennial Review???
I offer no opinion as to likely answers. Ours is a big, diverse country.
Also, I believe in miracles. But, if I was an non-transit agency who received
JARC funding in the past, I would read the seven points under Program of
Projects very, very carefully and collectively join with other JARC
subrecipients to see the powers-that-be to be recognized as an official group of "interested parties". I'd also pay a visit to the MPO Director to ask about when the TIP will be updated to reflect new appropriations under MAP-21 and how many minutes do individuals get for public comments. In other words, expect a season of hard nose advocacy.
Of course, if your local public transit agency received all of the JARC funds in the past, that pretty well sums up the status of coordination.
But wait, I'm getting a feeling ... a feeling that coordination is passing through the room....
If you are interested how FTA presently evaluates Recipients' compliance with Planning/Program of Projects requirements look up Chapter 11 in the 2012 Triennial Review Workbook, linked below. Notice how important the Coordinated Planning process is in the evaluation. There is a question on project selection for JARC & New Freedom projects. Now, imagine how Chapter 13 in the 2013 Workbook will change.