The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced a final rule requiring FTA grantees to develop management plans for their public transportation assets, including vehicles, facilities, equipment, and other infrastructure. Transit asset management (TAM) is an essential practice for providing safer, more reliable transit service nationwide, while helping lower operating costs.
“The Obama Administration has made transportation infrastructure a priority across the United States,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “FTA’s new transit asset management rule will ensure that large and small transit operators take a common sense, strategic approach to maintaining their assets. This rule is a big step toward ensuring safe and efficient transit service for the tens of millions of Americans who rely on public transportation each day.”
Transit asset management lays out a strategic approach to maintain and improve capital assets, based on careful planning and improved decision-making, such as reviewing inventories and setting performance targets and budgets to achieve state of good repair goals. The rule, required under MAP-21 legislation, is intended to close the gap on aging and poorly maintained transit assets. In 2013, FTA estimated that the transit industry had deferred maintenance and replacement needs totaling $86 billion, representing more than 12 percent of transit assets nationwide. FTA estimates that more than half of that backlog is made up by rail systems. In addition, nearly half of all buses are in either poor or marginal condition, meaning that they are due – or soon due – for replacement.
“We’ve worked inclusively with our grantees to develop the TAM rule, setting clear requirements for transit agencies to identify and prioritize state of good repair needs,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “The good news for both transit operators and the traveling public is that the rule will improve safety and reliability and result in fewer travel delays for passengers.”
By requiring transit agencies to better track and maintain assets, the TAM rule will help them save the costs associated with breakdowns. In 2013, agencies reported spending $2.2 billion in mechanical failures; if only 1 to 2 percent of breakdowns are avoided thanks to better transit asset management practices, the rule will be cost-effective. Moreover, agencies will realize benefits from improved asset management such as increased reliability, transparency, and accountability.
Under the TAM rule, each FTA-supported transit provider will be required to inventory and assess the conditions of their assets, develop priorities for investment based on the inventory, and establish performance targets to keep assets in a state of good repair.
As FTA developed the TAM rule, it hosted listening sessions at dozens of events, ran webinars and conducted a multi-phase public comment period.
The new rule takes effect in October 2016. Agencies must complete asset management plans within two years and establish preliminary state of good repair performance targets by January 2017. The rule also establishes new reporting requirements to the National Transit Database.