When DART submits a proposal like the one for D2 to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), there’s a lot more involved than simply asking for and receiving the amount of federal funding needed to complete the project.
The federal government distributes a finite amount of money among many different cities and regions across the United States. Proposals are evaluated on feasibility, cost, and the specific transit needs of different regions. The more projects seeking funding – around 50 (note: 100 in the pipeline at any one time that may turn into the 50 actually ready to move forward seeking funding) in any given year – the greater the competition to win federal dollars.
As DART pursues its quest for federal funding of D2, we must consider:
Other cities putting their hats into the ring. We all receive funding from the same pool. The federal government will stretch the limited amount of dollars it has as far as possible to benefit as many regions as possible. Larger, more complex, and ultimately more expensive systems are vying for dollars alongside small systems that are just getting started and systems like DART that are working to build greater capacity and flexibility for a rapidly growing region.
DART believes, based on decades of experience working with the FTA, requesting a federal grant amount that is reasonable both budget-wise and design-wise is key to being awarded the funding being sought for the D2 project. The amount DART is asking for will not only keep us competitive in this pool, but also increase the likelihood we will receive the federal share we need to build D2 and other projects (see below) our system needs without unduly burdening local or federal taxpayers.
Multiple DART projects requiring federal dollars. D2 is part of a Program of Interrelated Projects that will increase flexibility and capacity for all of North Texas. All of these projects will seek dollars from the FTA. In fact, part of our federal funding proposal strategy is having these projects funded as a collective program. DART needs to achieve the right balance among these projects to ensure all receive the necessary federal funding.
DART’s job is to submit a proposal for a regional transit solution that meets the needs of North Texas in the short and long term, while also having the best chance of winning the full amount of federal funding we are seeking. Based on our experience working with the FTA day-to-day over many years, asking the government for 50% matching funds gives us the best possible chance of securing the dollars needed to build D2, and advance all of North Texas’ transit priorities.