A brief addendum to my article last week exploring the possibility of federal funding for Ben Cayetano’s bus rapid transit system.
The Federal Transit Administration has been increasingly tight-lipped as the election approaches, and declined to share on-the-record insights in response to that story. (The agency is also refusing to talk about the status of the funding guarantee for rail, so the lack of transparency is being uniformly applied across all projects, it seems.)
But the FTA did point me to the guidance it produced to help make sense of the new law (MAP-21) that Cayetano’s camp says opens new possibilities for BRT. An excerpt from the section explaining the new definition of BRT:
This definition means that a BRT system may include a mixture of both exclusive guideway and non-dedicated guideway with traffic signal priority, so long as the exclusive guideway (during peak periods) constitutes a “majority of the line” and so long as the other features emulating rail transit are present.
The guidance also makes clear that there are other definitions of BRT in federal law. In particular, Section 5309, which deals with the type of New Starts and Small Starts funding Honolulu rail is relying on, says the term “fixed guideway capital project” includes a “corridor-based bus capital project” if:
(A) a substantial portion of the project operates in a separate right-of-way dedicated for public transit use during peak hour operations; or
(B) the project represents a substantial investment in a defined corridor as demonstrated by features such as park-and-ride lots, transit stations, bus arrival and departure signage, intelligent transportation systems technology, traffic signal priority, offboard fare collection, advanced bus technology, and other features that support the long-term corridor investment.
Wonky, I know. But the basic takeaway is that BRT would only qualify for the same type of federal funding rail’s now in line for if it behaves like rail. So “flexible” — the F in Cayetano’s FAST plan — doesn’t really jibe with the feds’ idea of what BRT should be.
— Michael Levine