Twenty years ago, public transit funding was simpler. Choose a grant, check eligibility and apply for grant.

Pretty straightforward. These are still (and always will be) the fundamentals of grant writing.

But, as time went on, the grant application became more sophisticated, intricate, and interesting. Today, grant applications are not just about choosing a grant and checking eligibility. They are about the broader application of technologies and human need.


Let’s understand the 5 Step process to secure the grant:


The Transit grant application is about understanding the role that transit plays for its customers (people), the processes and the implementation of technology to automate and improve these existing processes.


This post outlines a complete, step-by-step process of applying for a public transit grant. Adapt and future-proof your grant application process and improve your grant approval rate by following these steps.


1. Understand what is transit funding and how the federal dollar is spent.

What is transit funding?

Since 1964, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has worked with state and local governments to develop and improve public transportation networks, investing more than $13 billion yearly to sustain and expand these services.

According to the FTA, fares only cover about 39% of the operational costs of public transportation systems, requiring additional support from the federal, state, and local governments, as well as private investment.

Annual formula grants and discretionary funding are awarded to transit agencies around the nation through competitive processes.

As state and federal funds are disbursed on a reimbursement basis to cities, counties, transit authorities, and transit providers, the provider must incur expenses prior to the State or the Federal Transit Administration disbursing payments.

How the federal dollar is spent?

Capital and Operating expenses are the two main categories of costs associated with providing public transportation.

Capital ExpensesOperating Expenses
Buses, rail lines, and rail stations are examples of equipment that can be purchasedVehicle operation and maintenance, station and other facility upkeep, general administration, and private transportation procurement
accounts for one-third of all costs for public transportationaccount for two-thirds of all costs for public transportation


Only a quarter of the overall cost is covered by fares and other operating revenues, with the rest coming from federal, state, and local governments. Table 1 shows that the federal government supports less than 10% of operational expenditures but nearly 40% of capital expenditures.

2. Know what kind of funding you are eligible for?

But before you jump into your eligibility for various grant types, let look at the different types of funds that are available via the grant process.

What are different types of funds?

• Competitive funding

An application selection procedure based on a review of a supervisor or team of reviewers is referred to as competitive funding.

The funding is awarded on the basis of the application’s qualities, and recipients are not chosen in advance.

Example: accelerating innovative mobility, access and mobility partnership grants.

•  Formula funding

These are awarded to recipients who are predetermined and are non-competitive. The amount of funding available and who is eligible to receive it are determined using a formula.
A specific formula is used to distribute funds from formula grants among the states.
Example: 5310 formula grants for enhanced mobility of seniors & individuals with disabilities, 5311 formula grants for rural areas, etc.

Who is eligible for these funds?

Before applying for these funds, make sure you are eligible for the grant. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time and money filling out the application when you are not eligible to receive the grant.  

•  There are many types of organizations that are eligible to apply for funding opportunities on, such as government organizations, transportation grants for schools, non-profit organizations, transportation grants for disabled, for-profit organizations, hospitals, transportation grants for rural community, etc.

•  The first task is to decide which type of business you represent or whether you will be applying as an individual. Once you have decided that whether you’ll apply on the behalf of your organization or as an individual, you are ready to check your Eligibility.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) determines how to distribute grants based on some of the factors such as land area, population, percentage of the low-income population, and percentage of disabled or senior’s population, etc.

Click here for a list of current available grants.

3. How to apply for transit funding?

Learn – Go to the grant learning center for an overview of grants

Check – Check your eligibility

Search – Search for federal grants that are aligned to your work

Register – Sign up with

Apply – Complete and submit your application

Track – Enter your tracking number for submission status


4. How to define and choose your transit partner?

You can apply for your grant by co-partnering with different agencies, software providers, etc. to improve the chances of your application and to bring in some amazing benefits

Don’t assume the person reading the grant will be as familiar with your partners as you are. Make sure to spell out your partners’ unique roles and duties. These connections should be obvious.

The advantages of your collaborations should be evident. If it isn’t, modify the words till they are. Perhaps you could have someone from outside your field read the content. You must make this document as easy to comprehend as possible.

With an experienced software solutions provider as a partner you will not just improve your application process but you will also enjoy its efficient software and reporting features as well.

• The Global Scheduling Engine (GSE) from QRyde will reduce your costs by routing efficiently and will increase share ride possibilities with the existing system by filling empty seats on existing routes. It will avoid unnecessary maintenance of vehicles, fuel consumption, driver and staff time. QRyde had previously developed a program for its grant partner, MART.

• Every applicant who secures funding must submit a National Transit Database (NTD) report to the FTA or their state officials. With QRyde you can easily create these reports along with other productive reports that will provide you with insights into your operation and ensure that your work is progressing smoothly.

• Grants such as enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities (section 5310), formula grants for rural areas (section 5311) are very beneficial and reduce the burden of the transit agencies but having said that it requires a lot of work to maintain it. But with QRyde’s specialized tools and software, you can keep track of your operations and the reporting that is required for continued receiving of the funds. Which will help you in fulfilling your agency’s goals by allocating your resources efficiently.

• It saves you hundreds of admin hours as you get hundreds of standard reports with intuitive filters as well that can be saved in 9 different file formats. It also provides ad hoc reporting for unique reporting needs and a personalized dashboard to keep track of KPI.

Recently, QRyde’s partners such as The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) And The Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) in Massachusetts were awarded COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grants.

5. Respect the deadlines

Missing deadlines means missing funding opportunities. We have seen this over and over again, and we can’t reiterate this enough. Each award may have specific requirements that must be met by a certain date. These are important to know.

For instance, you might require a letter of intent (LOI). A letter of recommendation from a partner may be required. These deadlines may be much earlier than the application’s final submission date (which you should also know). Knowing when items are due will assist to reduce the element of surprise.

The bottom line on transit grant applications

While not every application will be accepted, each one will increase your chances of being considered for future possibilities. Examine the reasons for the application’s rejection. Maybe they made a mistake. Maybe your group did. In any case, go back over the application, edit it, and resubmit it the next time you apply to the same awarding organization.

These suggestions are, in a sense, the tip of the iceberg. Just keep in mind not to give up. You’re not the only one who feels this way.


What’s the latest, you ask?

FTA Section 5310 funding has been announced for Nebraska and we wanted to make sure that you have all the help needed.

Application Deadline: September 22, 2021

Who Can Apply: Private Non-Profit Organizations and Government Entities Eligible to Apply

Here are the set of documents required for Section 5310 Grant Application

FTA Section 5310 Program Overview and Application Guideline

Section 5310 Grant Application

Sample Resolution

Sample Public Notice

NDOT Vehicle Selection Guide

Get ahead of the competition with QRyde as we have a record of securing funding with 200 partners in more than 20 states. Talk to our transit expert today to understand how QRyde could help you take your transit funding application to the next level.