Florida RTAP Background
In Florida, the Public Transit Office of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) administers the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) Center. Since 2003, FDOT has retained the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida (USF) to manage the Florida RTAP Center and help address the training and technical assistance needs to Florida’s small urban and rural transit systems.
Florida RTAP is a broad program that provides training, continuing education, and technical assistance to those who provide or assist in the provision of public transportation services in rural and small urban communities in order to promote the coordinated delivery of safe, efficient, and effective transit services.
For additional information on the Florida RTAP Program and Center, contact Bobby Westbrook, FDOT Transit Operations/Safety Administrator or at (850) 414-4529 or the CUTR RTAP Program Project Manager: Stephanie Lewis, (813) 974-1123. The program is assisted by Roberta Yegidis, (203) 520-8894 and Bill Mayer, (813) 974-2646.
The program objectives of Florida RTAP are to:
- Promote the safe and effective delivery of public transportation in non-urbanized (rural and small urban) areas and to make more efficient use of public and private resources;
- Foster the development of state and local capacity for addressing the training and technical assistance needs of the rural and small-urban transportation communities;
- Improve the quality of information and technical assistance available through the development of training and technical assistance resource materials;
- Facilitate peer-to-peer self-help through the development of local networks of transit professionals;
- Support the coordination of public, private, specialized and human service transportation services;
- Make RTAP a household word with small urban and rural providers who will actively use and benefit from the center; and
- Develop and implement an evaluation process that ensures the training being offered is of the highest quality and is meeting the needs of the small urban and rural provider.
National RTAP – Overview and History
Millions of rural and tribal citizens are unable to drive for health, economic or lifestyle reasons. Transit is a real solution to maintaining a high quality of life in rural areas—providing access to jobs, healthcare, education, shopping and numerous other activities. Since 1979, FTA has provided formula funding to states, under the Section 5311 Non-urbanized Transit Program, to establish and maintain transit systems in communities with populations under 50,000.
Soon after, program founders recognized that community transit drivers, dispatchers, maintenance workers, managers and board members needed special skills and knowledge to provide quality service to their diverse customers across large service areas. As a result, the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) was created in 1987.
The Formula Program for Rural Areas (MAP-21’s new name for the Section 5311 program) provides funding for the RTAP program. A portion of the funding is reserved for National RTAP; the remainder is distributed to the states by formula.
The goals of the RTAP program are to promote the safe and effective delivery of public transportation services in rural areas and to facilitate more efficient use of public transportation resources. To meet those goals, the program focuses on the following objectives:
- Improving the quality of training and technical assistance resources available to the rural transit industry
- Encouraging and assisting state, local, and peer networks to address training and technical assistance needs
- Promoting the coordination of transportation services
- Building a national database of information about the rural transit industry
Since its inception, National RTAP has contributed to the achievement of these objectives at the national level by developing and distributing training materials, providing technical assistance, creating web-based applications, producing reports, publishing best practices, conducting research, and offering peer assistance for rural and tribal transit providers and state RTAP programs.