611.203 New Starts project justification criteria.§ 611.203 New Starts project justification criteria.
(a) To perform the statutorily required evaluations and assign ratings for project justification, FTA will evaluate information developed locally through the planning and NEPA processes.
(1) The method used by FTA to evaluate and rate projects will be a multiple measure approach by which the merits of candidate projects will be evaluated in terms of each of the criteria specified by this section.
(2) The measures for these criteria are specified in appendix A to this part and elaborated on in policy guidance. This policy guidance, which is subject to a public comment period, is issued periodically by FTA whenever significant changes to the process are proposed, but not less frequently than every two years, as required by 49 U.S.C. 5309(g)(5).
(3) The measures will be applied to projects defined by project sponsors that are proposed to FTA for New Starts funding.
(4) The ratings for each of the criteria in § 611.203(b)(1) through (6) will be expressed in terms of descriptive indicators, as follows: “high,” “medium-high,” “medium,” “medium-low,” or “low.”
(b) The project justification criteria are as follows:
(1) Mobility improvements.
(2) Environmental benefits.
(3) Congestion relief.
(4) Economic development effects.
(5) Cost-effectiveness, as measured by cost per rider.
(6) Existing land use.
(c) In evaluating proposed New Starts projects under these project justification criteria:
(1) As a candidate project proceeds through engineering, a greater level of commitment will be expected with respect to transit supportive plans and policies evaluated under the economic development criterion and the project sponsor's technical capacity to implement the project.
(2) For any criteria under paragraph (b) of this section that use incremental measures, the point for comparison will be the no-build alternative.
(d) FTA may amend the measures for these project justification criteria. Any such amendment will be included in policy guidance and subject to a public comment process.
(e) From time to time FTA may publish through policy guidance standards based on characteristics of projects and/or corridors to be served. If a proposed project can meet the established standards, FTA may assign an automatic rating on one or more of the project justification criteria outlined in this section.
(f) The individual ratings for each of the criteria described in this section will be combined into a summary project justification rating of “high,” “medium-high,” “medium,” “medium-low,” or “low,” through a process that gives comparable, but not necessarily equal, weight to each criterion. The process by which the project justification rating will be developed, including the assigned weights, will be described in policy guidance.