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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has proposed a new pilot program which would permit, on an experimental basis, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recipients and sub-recipients to utilize various contracting provisions that previously have been disallowed due to concerns about adverse impacts on competition. This one-year pilot program is to determine whether the use of such requirements would "unduly limit competition," as described in an August 23, 2013, opinion from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
Federal contracting rules to date have traditionally prohibited contract provisions that do not relate to work performance, such as provisions that may be based on social or economic initiatives, including local and other geographic-based labor hiring preferences. Based on the findings of this program, the Department of Transportation (DOT) may provide further guidance regarding such restrictions.
In addition to the proposed pilot program, the DOT has also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register to modify the "common grant" rule geographic preference provision as it is applied to USDOT programs. We encourage all APTA members to review the provisions of the pilot program and proposed regulatory change at this link, and to provide their individual comments to the docket at this link.
DOT made no provision for comment on the pilot program and allowed only 30 days for comment on the permanent regulatory change. APTA has submitted a request to extend the comment period for an additional 30 days and offered to host a webinar for DOT to explain what it believes these provisions mean. With the comment deadline looming APTA plans to host a webinar for all APTA members to seek consensus positions on Thursday, March 26, at 12 pm (EST). The webinar will explore the legal issues inherent in any local hiring provision, as well as application of such provisions to construction, rolling stock, supply, and services contracts.
To register for the March 26 webinar, follow this link.
USDOT Announces Reasonable Modification Rule to Improve Access to Public Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities
On March 13, USDOT announced a final rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their polices, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The final rule applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride and complementary paratransit services. It establishes that an individual's disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to its service except where doing so would fundamentally alter the service, create a direct threat to others, or is unnecessary to permit the passenger to utilize the entity's services in a non-discriminatory fashion. It also provides 27 examples of what the Department believes is or is not a reasonable modification.
APTA will offer its members one or more webinars to assist complying with this new rule. As webinar dates and times are established, APTA will announce them in Passenger Transport or PTX, post them on its web site at http://www.apta.com/gap/fedreg/Pages/default.aspx, and provide notification throughout its committee structure.
The rule becomes effective on July 13, 2015.
FTA Announces Proposed Environmental Review Process Guidance for Review
The FTA invites comments on Proposed Environmental Review Process Guidance. The draft guidance (previously referred to as the SAFETEA-LU Environmental Review Process Final Guidance) is proposed to be amended to reflect provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The document, once finalized, would provide guidance on environmental review process requirements and best management practices for transportation projects funded or approved by the FHWA, FTA, or both agencies.
The public comment period ends on May 12, 2015; comments can be submitted on www.regulations.gov.
Webinar: Understanding the Travel Needs of Older Adults
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 1 to 3pm, the USDOT will be holding a webinar to better understand the challenges faced by older adult travelers with disabilities to develop transformative technology solutions. Participants will be prompted with several scenarios and asked to give responses and feedback to these situations. To participate in this webinar, please register at the following link. If you require assistance, or alternative formats to participate, please contact Suzie Edrington of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute by phone at (713) 613-9207 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webinar: State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program NPRM
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm, the FTA's Office of Transit Safety & Oversight will be holding a webinar to discuss the State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program NPRM, which can be found here. Participants will be able to ask questions through the web interface, or at the end of the session. Panelists will respond to as many questions as possible during the webinar. Pre-registration is required for attendance at the session, which can be accessed here.
Webinar: Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program Interim Provisions
On Thursday, March 26, 2015, at 1 pm, the FTA's Office of Transit Safety & Oversight will be holding a webinar to discuss the Interim Provisions for the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program, which can be found here. Participants will be able to ask questions through the web interface, or at the end of the session. Panelists will respond to as many questions as possible during the webinar. Pre-registration is required for attendance at the session, which can be accessed here.