Small Starts is part of the FTA capital investment program. The program funds light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects and projects are evaluated using criteria outlined in FAST on a 5 point scale from low to high priority.
Small Starts capital investment grants are specifically available for projects that have a total cost less than $300 million and where the total Small Starts funding sought is less than $100 million and for projects of new fixed guideway systems (light rail, commuter rail etc.), extension to existing systems, fixed guideway BRT systems, and corridor-based BRT systems.
To be evaluated, projects require complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into fiscally constrained long range transportation plan, gain commitments from all non-5309 funding sources, and completing sufficient engineering and design reviews.
Projects are evaluated on the basis of their improvements to mobility, environmental benefits, congestion relief, economic development, land use, and cost effectiveness (cost per trip). They also require an acceptable degree of local financial commitment including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources.
- FTA capital investment prorgams www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grant-programs/capital-investments/about-program