The Federal Transit Administration’s Section 5309 Capital Investment Grant program (commonly referred to as "New Starts") is the main funding source for rail and bus expansion projects nationwide. New Starts has three funding categories: New Fixed Guideway Projects, Small Starts and Core Capacity projects.
New Fixed Guideway projects are for rail extensions with a minimum cost of $300 million, requesting grants above $75 million. Small Starts projects include bus rapid transit projects, as well as lower cost rail projects. Core Capacity projects are improvements to an existing fixed guideway system that increase capacity by at least 10 percent.
MTC plays a critical role in brokering regional consensus about which Bay Area transit projects should pursue highly competitive New Starts funding.
Two major Bay Area projects are moving forward with New Starts grants:
The New Starts funding process is rigorous. Proposed projects must meet numerous cost-effectiveness criteria. Project sponsors apply for a multi-year commitment known as a Full Funding Grant Agreement. Once an FFGA is approved, MTC lobbies Congress to ensure appropriations fulfill the commitment.