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New Freedom Program

The New Freedom Program seeks to reduce barriers to transportation services and expand the transportation mobility options available to people with disabilities beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

The New Freedom Program was repealed as part of the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress for the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Funding for transportation projects that support individuals with disabilities is available for competitive award beginning in 2014 under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program. 

 

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 Statutory Authority

49 U.S.C. Section 5317

New Freedom projects funded from the 2007-2013 Calls for Projects may be ongoing in the region. The standalone program was repealed under MAP-21. Beginning in July 2012, New Freedom type projects became eligible under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program.

 

 

 Eligible Recipients
 

The New Freedom Program is a competitive grant program. There are three (3) categories of eligible recipients:

1. Private non-profit organizations;
2. State or local governmental authority; and
3. Operators of public transportation services including private operators of public transportation services.

Applicants may include local government agencies, social service agencies, tribal governments, private and public transit operators, non-profit organizations, and regional transportation planning agencies.

 Eligible Activities

The New Freedom Program is a competitive grant program. There are three (3) categories of eligible recipients:

1. Private non-profit organizations;
2. State or local governmental authority; and
3. Operators of public transportation services including private operators of public transportation services.

Applicants may include local government agencies, social service agencies, tribal governments, private and public transit operators, non-profit organizations, and regional transportation planning agencies.

Applicants are encouraged to develop innovative solutions to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in their communities. Examples of eligible projects may include, but are not limited to:

Paratransit Enhancements
ADA complementary paratransit services can be eligible under the New Freedom Program in several ways, as long as the services provided meet the definition of “new.” Examples of eligible projects may include, but are not limited to:

    • Expansion of paratransit service parameters beyond the three-fourths mile required by the ADA;

    • Expansion of current hours of operation for ADA paratransit services that are beyond those provided on the fixed-route services;

    • Incremental cost of providing same day service;

    • Incremental cost of making door-to-door service available to all eligible ADA paratransit riders (but not as a reasonable modification for individual riders in an otherwise curb-to-curb system);

    • Enhancement of the level of service by providing escorts or assisting riders through the door of their destination;

    • Acquisition of vehicles and equipment designed to accommodate mobility aids that exceed the dimensions and weight ratings established for common wheelchairs under the ADA and labor costs of aides to help drivers assist passengers with over-sized wheelchairs; and

    • Installation of additional securement locations in public buses beyond what is required by ADA.

New Public Transportation Services Beyond the ADA
The following activities are examples of eligible projects meeting the definition of new public transportation:

    • Feeder Services - New “feeder” service to commuter rail, commuter bus, intercity rail, and intercity bus stations, for which complementary paratransit services is not required under the ADA.

    • Accessibility Improvements - Improvements to transit and intermodal stations not designated as key stations and not required as part of an alteration or renovation to an existing stations, so long as the projects are clearly intended to remove barriers that would otherwise have remained. New Freedom funds are eligible to be used for new accessibility enhancements that remove barriers to individuals with disabilities so they may access greater portions of public transportation systems, such as fixed-route bus service, commuter rail, light rail, and rapid rail. This may include:

      Building an accessible path to a bus stop that is currently inaccessible, including curb cuts, sidewalks, accessible pedestrian signals or other accessible features;

      Adding an elevator or ramps, detectable warnings, or other accessibility improvements to a non-key station that are not otherwise required under the ADA;

      Improving signage, or wayfinding technology; or

      Implementation of other technology improvements that enhance accessibility for people with disabilities including Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).

    • Travel Training – New training programs for individual users on awareness, knowledge, and sills of public and alternative transportation options available in their communities. This includes travel instruction and travel training services.

New Public Transportation Alternatives Beyond the ADA
The following activities are examples of projects that are eligible as new public transportation alternatives beyond the ADA under the New Freedom Program:

    • Accessible Vehicles - Purchasing vehicles to support new accessible taxi, ride sharing, and/or vanpooling programs.

    • New Voucher Programs - Supporting the administration and expenses related to new voucher programs for transportation services offered by human service providers.

    • Volunteer Driver Programs - Supporting volunteer driver and aide programs that meet the requirements of both “new” and “beyond the ADA”.

    • Mobility Management - Supporting new mobility management and coordination programs among public transportation providers and other human service agencies providing transportation, including but not limited to:

      Promotion, enhancement, and facilitation of access to transportation services, including the integration and coordination of services for individuals with disabilities, older adults, and low-income individuals;

      Support for short-term management activities to plan and implement coordinated services;

      Operation of brokerages to coordinate providers, funding, agencies, and customers;

      Provision of coordination services, including employer-oriented Transportation Management Organizations and Human Service Organizations customer-oriented travel navigator systems and neighborhood travel coordination activities such as coordinating individualized travel training and trip planning activities for customers;

      Development and operation of one-stop transportation traveler call centers to coordinate transportation information on all travel modes and to manage eligibility requirements and arrangements for customers among supporting programs; and

      Operational planning for the acquisition of intelligent transportation technologies to help plan and operate coordinated systems inclusive of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, Global Positioning

      System technology, coordinated vehicle scheduling, dispatching, and monitoring technologies as well as technologies to track costs and billing in a coordinated system and single smart customer payment systems.

 Matching Requirements

New Freedom funds may be used to finance capital and operating expenses. Federal match requirements are determined according to the type of expenditure funded.

The federal share of eligible capital costs may not exceed 80 percent of the net cost of the activity.

The federal share of the eligible operating costs may not exceed 50 percent of the net operating costs of the activity.

All of the local share must be provided from sources other than federal Department of Transportation (DOT) funds. Some examples of sources of local match which may be used for any or all of the local share include, but are not limited to State or local appropriates; other non-DOT federal funds; dedicated tax revenues; private donations; revenue from human service contracts; and net income generated from advertising and concessions.

Local match may also be derived from other federal programs that are eligible to be expended for transportation, other than funds from DOT programs. Examples of types of programs that are potential sources of local match include, but are not limited to employment training; aging; community services; vocational rehabilitation services; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). To be eligible for local match for FTA funds, the other non-DOT federal funds must be used for activities included in the total net project costs of the FTA grant. Expenditures of other federal funds for transportation outside of the scope of the project cannot be applied as a credit for local match in the FTA grant.

 Planning Requirements

Projects selected for funding under the New Freedom Program must be derived from a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan.  The regional coordination plan, Access North Texas, identifies region-wide and county-wide strategies to address transportation needs.  Project submittals must be consistent with strategies identified through the Access North Texas Plan.  The complete plan can be found at www.accessnorthtexas.org.

 Other Requirements

The basic grant management requirements for States and local governments are contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, “Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments,” 49 CFR Part 18. The comparable DOT rule for private non-profit organizations is “Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations,” 49 CFR Part 19.

Other federal requirements, such as those related to Civil Rights, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Buy America, School Transportation, Lobbying, and Drug and Alcohol Testing apply to New Freedom funded projects. Labor protections, required under Title 49 U.S.C. 5333(b), do not apply to grants/recipients under the New Freedom Program.

 

2/25/2015    07/05/2012   JS

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