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  • Writer's pictureTom Kenny

Our Notes from the Low-No/Bus & Bus Facilities Webinar 2/16/23

On February 16, 2023, the Federal Transit Administration held an informational webinar to discuss the latest round of the Low-No Program, and Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program.

The Low-No Program provides funding for the purchase of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and for the acquisition, construction, or leasing of supporting facilities and equipment.

The Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program authorizes FTA to award grants to assist in the financing of buses and bus facilities capital projects, including:

1 - Replacing, rehabilitating, purchasing, or leasing buses or related equipment.

2 - Rehabilitating, purchasing, constructing, or leasing bus-related facilities

Within this joint NOFO, approximately $1.7B is available, with $469M for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive, and $1.22B for Low or No Emissions. Low-emission projects within the Low or No Emissions Program have $357M available due to lower funding requests in the 2022 release. Approximately $69M has been carried forward to this round.

The Notice of Funding Opportunity was released on January 27, 2023, and applications are due by 11:59pm EST on April 13, 2023. Project evaluations will take place between April and May 2023 with an award announcement no later than June 28, 2023.

Administration Priorities

Applicants should address the following priorities in their submission:

Climate Change

Workforce Development/Good Paying Jobs

Procurement Methods that reduce customization

Workforce Development Component of Zero-emission Plan


Evaluation Criteria

Demonstration of Need

How will the proposed project address an unmet need for capital investment?

What substantiating evidence can be provided to support these statements?

Demonstration of Benefits

Low-No: How will the proposed project support the program objectives to reduce energy consumption and harmful emissions?

Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive: How will the proposed project improve safety? What is the condition of the transit system? Reliability of transit service? Enhance access to mobility?

Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization

How is the proposed project consistent with local and regional long-range planning documents?

How is the proposed project consistent with local government priorities?

Zero-Emission Applicants

Did the Applicant include a zero-emission fleet transition plan that includes all six required elements?

Local Financial Commitment

When will the funds be fully secured?

What is the source of the local share?

Project Implementation Strategy

How soon can the proposed project be obligated (within 12 months)?

How will the project be implemented?

Technical, Legal, & Financial Capacity

Does the applicant have the know-how to carry out the proposed project?

What technical, legal, or financial capacity issues exist, if any?

Additional selection considerations include:

Geographic diversity

Diversity in size of the population of the service area

Small Urban, Rural, or Tribal

For Zero-Emission projects, prioritize projects with a plan for full fleet transition

Receipt of other competitive awards

Alignment with administration priorities

Updates for the 2023 NOFO:

For vehicle applications that include at least twenty zero-emission 40-foot buses, FTA will give priority consideration to applications that identify greater emission reductions. Applicants must use the FTA FY23 Bus and Low-No Emission Reduction Calculator found on the FTA website.

Facilities Projects with a request of greater than $35M should identify workforce development programs, specifically registered apprenticeship positions and use apprentices on the funded project. Workforce development programs should detail partnerships to help train, place, and retain underrepresented communities in jobs and registered apprenticeships on the project.

FTA will provide priority consideration to applicants that identify their intent to use a procurement method that reduces customization, such as a joint procurement or procurement using an existing schedule. The applicant should identify the proposed approach, other partners available, and how the procurement approach reduces vehicle customization. FTA will evaluate each project on its own merits and selection of one participant indicating their intent to pursue a joint procurement will be independent of selection of other potential participants.

FTA will give priority consideration to projects that support the Justice40 Initiative. Applications should identify how they considered the benefits and potential burdens a project may create, who would experience them and how they may be measured over time, with a specific focus on how the benefits and potential burdens will impact underserved/disadvantaged communities. Applicants should identify how a meaningful public involvement process, inclusive of disadvantaged populations, will be used throughout the project.

FTA will give priority consideration - among zero-emission applications - to applicants that are able to demonstrate that they have consulted with workforce representatives on all aspects of the workforce section of the fleet transition plan. Applicants should include steps to provide or connect workers to supportive services (such as childcare and transportation assistance). Applicants should identify at least one of the following in their plan:

  1. Use of labor-management partnerships for training

  2. Use of registered apprenticeship training to support skilling of incumbent and entry-level workers with a focus on registered apprenticeship to advance Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, Tribal, women, and other groups facing systemic barriers to employment that may be underrepresented in the current workforce, especially in higher-paying jobs.

Zero-Emission Fleet Transition Plan

Zero-Emission applications are required to submit a Fleet Transition Plan which includes vehicle and equipment procurements as well as facility projects that support zero-emission vehicles. Transition plans much include the following six elements:

Demonstrate Long-Term Fleet Management Plan

Address Availability of Current and Future Resources

Consider Policy and Legislation Impacts on Technologies

Evaluation of Existing and Future Facilities

Describe Partnership with Fuel Providers

Examine Impact on Applicant's Workforce

FTA will feature resources on their website to assist applicants in developing their Transition Plan.

Grant Management Associates has years of experience in helping applicants apply for opportunities like this one. Contact us today for a consultation.

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