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Intercity Bus Program Guidelines

1. Program Summary

Section 5311 of the Federal Transit Act, as amended, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to apportion funds to the Governor of each state for public transportation projects in nonurbanized areas.  The goals of the Section 5311 Programs are: to enhance the access of people in nonurbanized areas to health care, shopping, education, employment, public services and recreation; to assist in the maintenance, development, improvement, and use of public transportation systems in rural and small urban areas; and to encourage and facilitate the most efficient use of all Federal funds used to provide passenger transportation in nonurbanized areas through the coordination of programs and services. 

Under Section 5311 (i) which was authorized by the ISTEA, states are required to spend a portion of their Section 5311 apportionment to carry out a program for the development and support of intercity bus transportation. The federal objectives of the funding intercity bus service under Section 5311 are, (1)support the connection between nonurbanized areas and the larger regional or national system of intercity bus service; (2) meet the intercity travel needs of residents in nonurbanized areas; and (3) support the infrastructure of the intercity bus network through planning and marketing assistance and capital investment in facilities. 

2. IDOT'S Strategy

The institution of the intercity bus setaside to the Section 5311 program has created a situation where funding for regular Section 5311 service has declined by 15%. Thus IDOT's strategies are to (1) try and keep the same level of Section 5311 service statewide by funding any current Section 5311 service that would qualify as intercity with Section 5311 (i) funds, (2) implement an intercity bus program that is broad, flexible, and meets the basic FTA requirements, and (3) support intercity bus service in Illinois to the greatest extent feasible.

3. Eligible Participants

Due to the unique nature of this program, participants eligible to receive funding are broader in certain instances than he Section 5311 program. The list of eligible IDOT participants by type of assistance are detailed below.

Operating assistance projects: any participant eligible to receive funding under 30 ILCS 740/3-1.02 of the Illinois Compiled Statues (ILCS).

Priority will be given to current Sec 5311 recipients.

Priority will be given to current Sec 5311 grantees and Downstate Operating Assistance (DOA) grantees who have eligible projects in TIP's.

  • Technical assistance projects: any participant eligible to receive technical assistance funding under 20 ILCS 2705/49.18 & 49.19 of the ILCS and the federal intercity bus guidelines (FTA Circular 9040.IC).

Priority will be given to current Sec 5311 grantees and the Illinois RTAP center.

4. Eligible Project Categories

Intercity bus funds may be used to support a variety of projects. The types of
projects eligible for IDOT  intercity bus funding are detailed below.

  • Operating assistance: for a project to be eligible for operating assistance it must:
  • provide intercity bus service as a component of an existing Sec 5311 project.
  • An existing component is defined as service which currently
    meets all the intercity bus service requirements defined in
    section VI A.
  • provide expanded service to and existing Sec 5311 intercity bus project.

Service expansion is defined as either an increase in frequency (i.e., trips per day, hours per day, or days per week) or capacity (i.e., additional vehicles or larger vehicles) to an existing intercity bus service, or the increase in the frequency of an existing service, which now makes it eligible for intercity bus funding

  • provide for new intercity bus service.

An service not considered above as existing or expanded.

  • Capital assistance: for a project to be eligible for capital assistance it must:
  • be for rolling stock replacement or expansion and be used only for intercity service.
  • a fixed asset with a unit or joint use allocated cost greater than $2000.00 and is used only for intercity bus.
  • Technical assistance: for project to be eligible for technical assistance it must:
  • be for planning and marketing of intercity bus service.

5. Project Funding Requirements

In order to meet the objective of having a flexible program within FTA
guidelines, projects must meet the following requirements to be considered for

  • Operating assistance: for an eligible project to be considered for funding it must:
  • meet FTA requirements and be open to the general public. If a route is classified as intercity fixed route service it is exempt from the complementary paratransit requirements under ADA.

Source: FTA Circular 9040.1E

  • meet Illinois Commerce Commission rules where applicable.
  • be regularly scheduled bus service which connects two or more urban locations (i.e., population greater than 2500) which are more than 10 miles apart, and makes a meaningful connection with other scheduled intercity bus service to more distant points, if such service is available.

Source: Urban definition from U.S. Census and FTA Circular 9040.1E. Distance between urban locations based on an analysis of rural work trip lengths (USDOT/FHA report on Travel Behavior Issues in the 90's)
and mileage between stops for existing commercial intercity bus service in Illinois.

  • be a feeder service (i.e., fixed route or demand responsive bus service) which provides a meaningful connection (i.e., within two hours) to other scheduled intercity bus service.

Source: FTA Circular 9040.1E.

  • have printed timetables.
  • operate at least one day a week and make at least one round trip on each day of operation.
  • not be funded with any other FTA operating assistance funds.
  • not provide extensive circulation within a service area, nor be designed primarily to provide daily work trips within a service area (commuter service).

Source: FTA Circular 9040.1E.

  • Capital assistance: for an eligible project to be considered for funding it must: 
  • meet FTA requirements and be open to the general public.
  • be used only for intercity bus service (except for joint use fixed facilities), and be clearly identifiable in an IDOT approved cost allocation plan for a joint use project.
  • (in urbanized areas) project elements that can be identified as directly benefiting and supporting service to and from nonurbanized areas and be in an approved TIP.

  • Technical assistance: for an eligible project to be considered for funding it must:
  • be necessary for the improvement of intercity bus service.

6. Evaluation Criteria

Applications received by IDOT will be reviewed and ranked according to the

  • Factors considered in project selection:
  • demonstrated need for the project.
  • Timetable for implementation (all projects considered for funding must be capable of being obligated to a Sec 5311 POP within six months).
  • Local funding sources (if required).
  • Project type (operating, capital, technical assistance).
  • Funding priorities:

1st-operating assistance to provide intercity bus service which is a component of an existing Sec 5311 project.

2nd-operating assistance to provide expanded service to an existing Sec 5311 intercity bus project.

3rd-operating assistance for new intercity bus service.

4th-capital and technical assistance projects in support of intercity bus service.

Rolling stock capital projects will be given highest priority followed by technical assistance and non-rolling stock capital projects.

Eligible projects will be funded based on project type and availability of financial resources.  If all eligible projects within a priority category can   not be funded, the selection is at the discretion of the Department.    Also, the Department has the discretion to approve any eligible project based on project readiness, avoiding lapsing federal funds, obtaining   other federal funds (i.e., joint use facilities in urban areas), any other factors approved by the Director of DPT for the efficient use of the federal funds.

7. Eligible Costs

Following FTA guidelines, the funding percentages eligible for reimbursement of project costs are detailed below.

  • Operating: up to 50% of the operating deficit and 80% of the project administration expenses in accordance with FTA Circular 9040.1E and the ILCS.

Option A (for existing service) - Eligible operating and Administrative
Expenses as well as operating revenues for intercity bus service will be
determined using a mileage allocation formula. By this method sec 5311
and 5311 (i) expenses and revenues would not be reported separately. 
Rather, the portion of the total Sec 5311 service operating deficit and
administrative expense would be determined by the ratio of intercity bus
service mileage as a percentage of the total Sec 5311 service mileage. 
For example, if the Sec 5311 (i) portion of a grantee's total Sec 5311 service
is 10%, then 10% of the total Sec 5311 operating deficit and administrative 
expenses would be eligible for Sec 5311 (i) funding and requisitioned for
reimbursement as such.

This method requires the grantee to accurately document the total Sec
5311 and Sec 5311 (i) mileage for each requisition period.  This would be
accomplished by having each vehicle trip mileage recorded and
identified as either intercity or regular.  In order to avoid any confusion,
a vehicle trip must be classified in whole as either intercity bus or
regular service based on the definition provided in part II A above.

Option B (for existing, expanded, or new service) - Eligible operating
and administrative expenses as well as operating revenues for intercity
bus service will be detailed by the grantee under a separate budget or
an amendment to their existing Sec 5311 budget. Under this option
operating and administrative expense line items for Sec 5311 (i) service
would be determined by either the allocation formula detailed above or
documented direct expenses. Also, intercity bus revenues would have
to be kept tract of separately and applied directly to calculating the
intercity bus operating deficit.

This option requires the grantee to keep detailed records of all revenue
and expenses and to submit two sets of data (Sec 5311 and 5311 (i)) with
each requisition..

  • Capital: up to 80% in net costs in accordance with FTA Circular 9040.1E and Section 740.3-1.08 of the ILCS.
  • Technical assistance: up to 100% in accordance with FTA Circular 9040.1E and the ILCS.
  • Statewide planning: 100% of expenses up cap (15% of federal appropriation), and then 80%.