What is the program for?
The Rural Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program, funded through a Rural Business Enterprise Grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is designed to assist rural communities enhance economic growth and development by improving community transportation services. Public transit can help support a wide range of other economic development initiatives. Program objectives include helping small and emerging businesses and stimulating economic development through new and improved transportation programs. The program provides planning assistance for facility development, transit service improvements and expansion, new system start-up, policy and procedure development, marketing, transportation coordination, training and public transit problem solving activities.
Who qualifies for assistance?
To qualify for technical assistance, a project must be located in a rural area with a popu lation of less than 50,000. Requests for technical assistance may be submitted by private for-profit or non-profit organizations or agencies. Public entities are not eligible recipients; however, eligible recipients can usually be identified in most communities. The project must also benefit new or existing small and emerging businesses.
How are projects selected?
Applications for technical assistance are submitted directly to CTAA for review. Potential projects are reviewed to establish eligibility, and are scored and ranked according to the selection criteria described below:
- Will project help create or preserve jobs or small businesses?
- Is project located in an economically distressed area?
- Is project likely to be implemented after technical assistance has been provided?
- Are project goals directly linked to economic development?
- Will technical assistance be utilized innovatively to help resolve transportation issues and economic concerns?
- Is there local consensus and community support for the project?
How is the technical assistance program administered?
Once an application has been received, reviewed and tentatively approved by CTAA, a draft scope of work and project budget will be prepared and submitted to USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service for approval. Upon receipt of funding approval from USDA for a specific project, CTAA will notify the applicant and arrange for an initial site visit. Projects with more limited scopes may be eligible for short term technical assistance which has a streamlined review process.
During the site visit, CTAA staff will conduct a comprehensive project analysis and tech nical assistance needs assessment. CTAA will gather additional information about the proposed project and will work closely with the applicant and local officials in assessing the transportation needs of the community. Participants will explore ways in which the technical assistance program might be applied to help meet the transportation, small business and economic development objectives of the community.
Based on information collected during the initial site visit and needs assessment, CTAA will develop a refined scope of work which will define the project approach, work tasks, deliverable products and various "roles" of all project participants. If the project requires assistance from independent consultants, a consultant work plan , budget and request for proposals may be developed by CTAA.
During the course of a major project, CTAA staff and consultants will develop recommendations and solutions that are responsive to the community's needs.