The recent passage of the $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes an investment of more than $20 billion in American Transit. This is an historic and exciting time for the transit industry because the IIJA is providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for transit organizations to accelerate system improvements and build new projects for which they previously lacked the means to construct, or even plan for.
The Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program is the primary federal resource for matching funds for transit capital projects like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), heavy rail, and commuter rail. The IIJA authorized $4.6 billion to the CIG program annually for 2022-2026 ($3 billion annually is subject to appropriation). Cities, counties, DOTs, and transit agencies—or “project sponsors” as FTA calls them—pursue CIG funds to enable large capital projects to be built and stretch local dollars further.
CIG grants are not like most other federal grants, such as Low-No, Bus and Bus Facilities, TOD, RAISE, or INFRA. It’s best to think of a CIG grant as a process rather than an application, since receipt of the federal funds requires completion of a series of milestones done over the course of several years, rather than one single application submittal (or resubmittal.)
In the CIG process, FTA is a project sponsor’s potential investor and partner. Much like in other areas of business, project sponsors have an interest in putting their best foot forward with FTA by demonstrating their ability to advance the project by managing local decision-making and funding sources. However, FTA is a partner in the project, too, not just an investor to impress. For example, projects pursuing CIG funding must complete an environmental document compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Project sponsors complete a NEPA-compliant environmental document for the project, but the document is owned by FTA and they are responsible for its contents. FTA staff is a tremendous resource and, like the project sponsor, is invested in getting the environmental document right.
Another important partner in the process is your consultant team. We are the technical experts who anticipate and address the details throughout the process and beyond, so that the project sponsor is free to focus on making decisions and cultivating consensus. SRF’s Transit Team is committed to working with project sponsors and FTA to advance transit projects and increase sustainable transportation in the US. Contact our Transit Funding and Grant experts to discuss your transit improvement needs.