Impacts of Funding and Allocation Changes on Rural Transit in Texas
A.S. Edrington, J.P. Brooks
Funding for Rural Transit Districts (RTDs) in Texas has gone through notable change since 2003. First, the Federal Transit Administration increased funding for non-urbanized (rural) areas under the provisions of the Safe Accountable Flexible and Efficiency Transportation Equity Act - a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). At the same time, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) implemented a revised "needs and performance" based method for allocating both federal and state funds among RTDs effective fiscal year 2005. The revised method for allocating funds resulted in some RTDs receiving less federal and state funds, while others received more funds. The 2010 Census will introduce another change in funding due to changes in RTD population and land area, the two "needs" factors in the revised method for allocating funds. New and expanding urbanized areas will have an impact on adjacent RTDs. The population in rural areas near the border or surrounding metropolitan areas will increase faster relative to other parts of Texas. One of the objectives of this research was to document the impact of the change in allocation of federal and state funds on service levels and ridership. A second objective was to assess whether the relative changes in federal and state funding have affected the ability of RTDs to provide local share match for federal funds. This information will help to understand how changes in federal and state funding have affected transit in rural Texas and will contribute to a discussion by stakeholders of possible revisions to the TxDOT funding formula based on the outcomes of Census 2010.
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