Washington, D.C. – In a dramatic change from existing policy, the U.S. Transportation Secretary has proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on factors such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.

Secretary Ray LaHood announced the Obama Administration’s plans to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance. As part of the initiative, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will rescind budget restrictions issued by the Bush Administration in 2005 that focused primarily on how much a project shortened commute times in comparison to its cost.

“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” LaHood said. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities, and how it makes our communities better places to live.”

In making funding decisions, the FTA will now evaluate the environmental, community and economic development benefits provided by transit projects, as well as the congestion relief benefits from such projects.

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