MERIT: Operating and Capital Assistance
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) allocates operating assistance funds based on a performance-based methodology and capital assistance funds based on a project-based prioritization process. These changes were initiated through a series of reforms enacted by the 2018 Virginia General Assembly. Please visit the Transit Service Delivery Advisory Committee (TSDAC) page for additional information.
Additional information on the goals, eligibility requirements, and application process for each of these programs can be found in FY21 Program Application Guidance.
Information on additional DRPT administered statewide grant programs can be found on the Special Projects and Senior Transportation Programs page.
The Operating Assistance program provides funding for eligible operating expenses for all modes of public transportation services throughout the state, including local bus, commuter bus, commuter rail, light rail, demand response, paratransit, and ferry services. DRPT follows a performance-based methodology to determine the specific allocation of operating assistance funds to each operating agency throughout the state. The program funds up to 30% of all operating expenses borne by public transportation operators.
The Operating Assistance methodology is based on several different service delivery factors, including sizing and performance metrics. The sizing factors represent an agency's relative size to other agencies across the Commonwealth, whereas the performance factors represent an agency's performance trend for a given metric relative to statewide trends for all agencies.
The FY21 Operating Assistance Technical Guidance contains detailed information about the performance-based allocation methodology used for this program.
Operating Assistance Resources:
- Commonwealth Transportation Board Policy: Policy for the Implementation of Performance Based Statewide Operating Allocation
- FY21 Operating Technical Guidance
The Capital Assistance program is guided by a prioritization process for capital needs that allows DRPT to allocate and assign limited resources to projects and investments identified as the most critical. The prioritization process determines which projects achieve the policy objective of maintaining a state-of-good repair of existing assets and determines which projects receive funding for new investments.
Under the Capital Assistance program, projects are classified, scored, and prioritized separately in the following categories:
- State of Good Repair (SGR): Projects or programs to replace or rehabilitate an existing asset. (State Match: Up to 68%)
- Minor Enhancement (MIN): Projects or programs to add capacity, new technology, or a customer facility with a cost of less than $2 million or include a vehicle expansion of no more than five vehicles or 5% of the existing fleet size. (State Match: Up to 68%)
- Major Expansion (MAJ): Projects or programs to add, expand, or improve service with a cost exceeding $2 million or, for expansion vehicles, an increase of greater than five vehicles or 5% of fleet size, whichever is greater. (State Match: Up to 50%)
Applicants that are eligible for Federal Public Transportation grant programs may combine federal and state capital assistance grant funds to decrease the local match needed for each project. However, a minimum 4% local match is necessary for all projects.
The FY21 Transit Capital Assistance Prioritization-Technical Documentation contains detailed information about scoring and prioritization for state of good repair, minor enhancement, and major expansion projects.
Capital Assistance Resources:
- Commonwealth Transportation Board Policy: Policy for the implementation of state transit capital prioritization
- FY 21 Transit Capital Assistance Prioritization-Technical Documentation
- Policy and funding opportunities to support inclusion of electric transit vehicles in Virginia's Transit fleet (10-11-19 Webinar)
Capital Assistance Application Resources:
- FY 21 Capital Assistance Application- Quick Guide
- Milestones for Capital Applications
- Useful Life Chart
- VW Public Transit Electrification Project Funding Application
- VW Public Transit Electrification Project Supplemental Fleet Data Spreadsheet
Capital Assistance Prioritization and Scorecards
- State of Good Repair Project Scores Worksheet
- Minor Enhancement Project Scores Worksheet
- Major Expansion Project Scorecard: Route 1 Metroway Expansion
- Major Expansion Project Scorecard: Potomac Yard Metrorail Station South Entry
- Major Expansion Project Scorecard: Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway Northern and Southern Extension
- Major Expansion Project Scorecard: Crystal City Metro Station East Entrance