Part 1 of 3
By: Todd Allen
Director of Government & Community Relations
In this three-part blog series, I will be feeding you fun facts on funding.
Public transit plays a vital role for individuals and communities. As such, a positive revenue stream is essential to all public and human service transportation agencies providing service to its customers.
Revenue options come in many forms based on the organization, such as services provided, grants, contracts, the customer, and many other means.
Traditionally, revenue funding in the U.S. public and human service transportation industry, across different provider types, is facilitated through a partnership between federal, state, and local sources.
Although funding sources vary, the following sources seek to provide agencies with an outline funding resources to benefit ongoing agency operational sustainability.
US Federal Sources
The U.S. transit and human service transportation funding model is generally supported with taxpayer revenue from varying sources that is appropriated on an annual basis by the U.S. Congress to all federal agencies, such as the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), and others for specific purpose. The Federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30 with funding being provided either directly or indirectly from federal agencies via grant sources to state and local agencies.
The USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides annual funding (as appropriated by Congress) for:
- Public transit services
- Seniors and individuals with disabilities
- Tribal transit
- Mobility management
- Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
- And many more
The FTA provides formula-based and discretionary funds to urban transit agencies, state Departments of Transportation (DOT’s), and other local organizations. The percentage of federally required local matching funds for their grants vary by program.
For human service agencies, the USDHHS provides transportation funding for many services, such as:
- Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
- Vocational rehabilitation
- And many others
Funding amounts vary by program and allocation methods, such as formula, state allocations, block grants, etc.
As another key partner in the transportation funding process, state governments play an important role in administering federal funds; managing state taxpayer funds allocated by the state legislature; and providing technical assistance in planning, developing, and training local transportation services.
With 50 U.S. States, there are 50 different ways the state and federal funding programs may be managed.
Most federal grant programs have minimum requirements that states must adhere to when administering these programs.
States have varying fiscal year start and end dates, with July 1 – June 30 being the most common.
State DOT’s and USDHHS equivalent agencies are excellent resources to discuss potential funding options that may benefit an organization.
Depending on the type of public or human service transportation provider, local sources of revenue vary by the organization.
With local transportation services provided by government, non-profit, private, volunteer, and many other methods, revenues may be received from federal, state, and local sources.
Local funding source examples include:
- Municipal, township (depending on the state), county/parish/borough, and regional governments; authorities;
- Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO);
- Regional planning organizations;
- Non-profit organizations (i.e. human service, faith-based, charitable, etc.), private foundations, private sector companies, etc.
Depending on the service provided, the customer’s fare paid for applicable services is also an important revenue source and aids in the overall agency revenue picture.