Audit Reports

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FTA’s Transit Research Program Plan Is Outdated

Requested by the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
Project ID: 

According to transit operators, identifying, testing, and deploying low and no emission transit technologies are essential to their ability to meet Federal, State, and local clean air and efficiency requirements. The Senate Appropriations Committee directed our office to collect stakeholder opinions to identify ways FTA could better promote and deploy new transit technology. Accordingly, our objective was to determine whether FTA’s actions to promote low or no emission technology are seen by transit operators, the industry, and research stakeholders as meeting their needs.

Overall, FTA is not identifying new transit technologies or disseminating information that could increase grantees’ ability to meet emission and efficiency standards. FTA’s Office of Research has not updated its multi-year transit research plan intended to provide a vision for making investments in specific technologies to reach defined transit emissions and efficiency goals. FTA officials stated that the Office of Research is currently limited in its ability to rebuild the Agency’s role because the Office of Budget and Policy coordinates transit research funding. These research funds are primarily used for non-transit technology research. Overall, stakeholders expressed that FTA’s current emphasis on deploying low or no emission technology does not meet their needs. Several stated that FTA should have a central role in all research phases and deployment of new transit technology. However, FTA is no longer involved in significant transit technology research. We recommended that FTA reassess its transit technology priorities and update its multi-year transit research program plan. FTA concurred and plans to complete actions to address our recommendation by July 1, 2015.