The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently granted the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) an administrative waiver that will allow the use of pre-hurricane data to calculate the amount of federal transit funding for which the New Orleans area is eligible in 2007.
As a result of the waiver, the New Orleans area should receive no less than the $18.8 million in federal transit funding that was apportioned by formula in 2006. Had the waiver not been granted, and 2005 data been used, the area's apportionment could have been cut nearly in half.
"Local transit riders shouldn't be punished for a storm they never could have stopped," FTA Deputy Administrator Sandy Bushue said.
RTA General Manager William J. DeVille requested a waiver from the FTA under an "Act of God" provision in a federal transit data-reporting manual. DeVille cited service interruption, service reduction and displaced and limited staff as the result of Hurricane Katrina as reasons justifying the waiver.
In addition to the reporting waiver, FTA last year deferred RTA's local matching funds requirement on all grants until 2010, allowing the transit authority to make use of federal funds to buy supplies, make equipment repairs or begin reconstruction without using local money.