National Transit Database

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The National Transit Database is a program for reporting system information to the FTA.

Introduction

Formed in 1974, the National Transit Database (NTD) is a federal reporting program for transit agencies receiving Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding<ref name="ntdmanual">Office of Budget and Policy. (2017). "National Transit Database Policy Manual."</ref>. It serves as a primary repository for all transit-related data and statistics in the United States. The performance data from the NTD is used to allocate FTA funding and to report on public transit performance to Congress and researchers. Transit agency data is publicly available on the NTD website. The NTD is legislated under Title 49 U.S.C. 5335(a).

Requirements

Agencies receiving Federal funding under FTA programs 5307 (Urbanized Area Formula) and 5311 (Rural Area Formula) must submit data to the NTD<ref name="ntdmanual" />. These data include most statistical aspects of operating transit service, such as agency characteristics, inventory of rolling stock, ridership, financials, and safety information<ref>Giorgis, J. D. "National Transit Database - NTD."</ref>. Data must be submitted through the NTD Program online portal and format requirements are strict to ensure quality of data. Failure to report will lead to an agency being disqualified from further funding.

The four main types of data required by the NTD cover financial information, service, safety, assets, and federal funding.

  • Financial data - This section of the NTD records revenues and expenses (operational and capital). Expenses are broken down by funding type: directly generated (e.g. passenger fares), local, state, and federal.
  • Service data - The NTD collects service provided (revenue service, vehicle miles, route miles) and actual service consumed (unlinked passenger trips, passenger miles traveled). Agencies must also report peak service.
  • Safety data - Agencies are required to report fatalities, injuries needing medical assistance, and significant property damage.
  • Asset and resource data - All resource data must be reported, including vehicles, maintenance, fuel, buildings, and employees.

Waivers

The FTA maintains different reporting requirements for different kinds of agencies. In particular, small transit systems can apply for a Small Systems Waiver to receive reduced reporting requirements<ref>Office of Budget and Policy (2013). "Small Systems Waiver Reporting Manual."</ref>. Eligible systems must operate, directly or by contract, fewer than 30 vehicles (including fixed-route and paratransit), and can have no fixed-guideway service. While the waiver does not affect funding eligibility, it may affect funding allocation because passenger miles are not reported.

Other waivers available include:

  • Natural Disaster Hold Harmless Adjustment - This waiver accounts for decreased service prompted by a natural disaster
  • Data, Report or Passenger Miles Traveled Sampling Waivers - Theses situationally specific waivers are rarely granted, but can be used in an agency's first year or if data collection is hampered by natural disaster.
  • Special Request – Strikes - Agencies can receive waivers if labor strikes impede service.

Training

New administrators of public transit systems may not know how to properly collect and manage data to meet NTD requirements. The National Transit Institute regularly offers introductory courses on NTD reporting. The training is provided free for employees of public transit agencies receiving federal funds. The course is available for a fee for transit consultants and others wishing to become familiar with the process.

Using NTD Data

TransitCenter published a video describing how to download data from the NTD.<ref>TransitCenter. "Fun with the National Transit Database". The Connection (2017).</ref>

References

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Additional Reading

National Transit Database Office of Budget and Policy. (2017). "National Transit Database Policy Manual."

Updated yearly, the official NTD policy manual explains the program and outlines reporting requirements.