Announcement: Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships

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Purpose of Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships

Last updated 2/15/2019

Approach and Guidelines

In 2018, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan which outlines FTA’s five-year research agenda on transit bus automation. One of the components of the STAR Plan is strategic partnerships. Under the Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships research area, FTA will partner with organizations that are conducting transit bus automated research, such as pilot demonstration projects, or are planning to do so in the near future. The purpose of the Strategic Partnerships is to leverage or supplement the work organizations are conducting on transit bus automation research and to help disseminate their research findings to the broader transit community. The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida has been tasked by FTA to administer these strategic partnerships.

Available Funding

Up to $500,000 total in Section 5312 funds is available from FTA in FY18 for the Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships (funds may also be available in subsequent years for additional strategic partnerships). A 20 percent local match is required of each recipient receiving funds. The local match can be in the form of cash and/or an in-kind match. Toll credits under 23 U.S.C. 120(i) are considered a non-Federal source. Unless otherwise authorized by statute, State or local cost-share may not be counted as the non-Federal share for both the Strategic Partnerships and another Federal grant program. Eligible activities for Section 5312 include research, development, demonstration and deployment projects, and evaluation of technology of national significance to public transportation.

Eligible Expenses (added 2/15/19)

The purpose of the Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships is to collect, analyze, and disseminate impacts (e.g., benefits and costs) and lessons-learned information from transit bus automation pilots, demonstrations, and deployments with the broader transit community (where “bus” is defined broadly to consider a range of sizes, vehicle platforms and configurations, and passenger capacities, and could include both traditional and novel rubber-tire vehicle designs). Federal funding is to help defray agency costs associated with these knowledge gathering and transfer activities, such as data collection and analysis, information sharing at conferences, and preparing a project report. Capital and operating expenses are not eligible.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered eligible for funding as a Strategic Partner, the agency must have a bus transit automation project that is at least Level 1 (Driver Assistance) according to the guidelines published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The agency’s transit bus automation project must either be in operation already or will be in operation within six months of when the FTA funding is awarded. The agency must commit to providing a 20 percent local match for the FTA funding that it is requesting.

Eligible Applicants

(Added 2/5/2019)
Eligible applicants under this notice are providers of public transportation, including public transportation agencies, state/local government DOTs, and federally recognized Indian tribes. Eligible applicants may team with eligible project partners which may include, but are not limited to:

  • private for-profit organizations, such as bus manufacturers, private operators of transportation service, technology system suppliers and integrators, automated vehicle technology providers, property managers and developers, and others;
  • not-for-profit organizations
  • state or local government entities, including multi-jurisdictional partnerships, and organizations such as a Metropolitan Planning Organization; or
  • other organizations including consultants, research consortia or not-for-profit industry organizations, and institutions of higher education.”

FTA Expectations

Funded Strategic Partners are expected to commit to the following:

  • Identify an agency staff person who will be the main point of contact with CUTR and FTA on the bus transit automation project
  • Develop a 1 to 2 page fact sheet about the project and provide other knowledge transfer materials as appropriate (e.g., presentation slides)
  • Participate in quarterly conference calls (or as needed) with FTA and CUTR
  • Provide monthly e-mail updates on project status to FTA and CUTR
  • Participate in one annual face-to-face meeting with FTA and CUTR in Washington, D.C.
  • Share data on the project
  • Make presentation to at least one professional association conference (e.g., APTA, TRB, CTAA)
  • Provide FTA and CUTR quarterly progress reports
  • Write, with CUTR assistance, a final project report
  • Respond to requests for assistance. This could include:
    • Inquiries from agencies referred by FTA and CUTR who are considering a similar AV project
    • Making your agency available for visits by agencies interested in a similar AV project

Proposal Requirements

Interested participants (potential strategic partners) should submit a written proposal of no more than five pages to FTA, care of CUTR, that describes the who, what, where, when, and why of your project. The proposal should include a discussion of your organization’s commitment to FTA’s expectations that were listed previously.

Who: Who is the project sponsor(s) and their participating partner organizations? Who is the main contact person for this project?

What: What is the automated transit technology being used for? What type of transit service is the automated technology being applied to?

Where: Describe the location of your transit automation project. For example, if it is a particular route, what is the name of this route? How long is the route? What destinations does the route serve?

When: What are the start and end dates for your transit automation project?

Why: Why did your agency undertake this transit automation project? What are the goals and objectives?

Funding Amount Requested: How much FTA Strategic Partnership funds is your agency requesting? Provide documentation that your organization can commit to a 20 percent local match. This can be in the form of a letter of commitment.

Commitment to FTA Expectations: Because the main purpose of the Transit Bus Automation Strategic Partnerships is to share and disseminate information about bus automation with the broader transit community, it is important that strategic partners be willing to commit time and resources as well as be willing to share data on their research findings. Please indicate your agency’s commitment to FTA’s expectations listed above. Please also prepare a scope of partnership that describes what you foresee a partnership with FTA entailing. Finally, please indicate any objections, if any, that your organization has in regards to FTA’s expectations for strategic partners.

Application Submission

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria, including but not limited to:

  1. Project Status
  2. Clearly defined project purpose
  3. Innovativeness of the project
  4. Value and transferability to the broader transit community
  5. Clearly defined partnership scope and stated commitment to FTA expectations

Applications should be sent by email to Brian Pessaro at

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on March 1, 2019.

CUTR and FTA will announce the first round of strategic partners on April 19, 2019.