FTA seeking comments for proposed partial Buy America Waiver for transit vans and minivans

July 22, 2022
The proposed partial waiver would be in effect for two years or until a Buy America-complaint vehicle became available.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is seeking comments to a proposed partial Buy America Waiver for non-ADA accessible passenger vans and minivans. Comments are due by Aug. 3, 2022, for the proposed partial waiver, which was published in the Federal Register this week.

In response to multiple requests for Buy America waivers for non-ADA accessible passenger vans and minivans due to lack of availability, FTA is proposing a limited duration partial waiver for these vehicles. The proposed partial waiver would require that final assembly of these vehicles, as well as the country of origin of the engine or motor, be in the United States, as reported under the American Automobile Labeling Act.

FTA is proposing that this partial waiver would expire after two years, or when a compliant vehicle becomes available, whichever is first.

FTA says it received three applications for waivers for non-ADA accessible vans and minivans in 2021 because the vehicles were needed for vanpool programs, but compliant vehicles were not available.

Another challenge FTA includes in its reasoning for the partial waiver is that FTA grant recipients cannot verify the domestic content of mass-produced, unmodified non-ADA accessible van and minivan models even though final assembly for a number of these vehicles occurs in the U.S. FTA says this is due to manufacturers being unwilling to sign the required Buy America certification regarding minimum domestic content or submit to FTA's pre-award and post-delivery audit requirements.

Without an identifiable model that is Buy America compliant, FTA is concerned grant recipients may operate existing vanpool fleets beyond their useful life, procure more expensive, larger and less desirable vehicles for vanpool service or suspend, end or not establish vanpool service.

From October 2016 through September 2019, FTA granted a general public interest waiver for mass-produced, unmodified non-ADA-accessible vans and minivans from the domestic content requirement for three years or until a compliant manufacturer materialized, whichever came first.

A link to the Federal Register notice is provided; parties interested in submitting comments have until Aug. 3, 2022.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.