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Advocacy TAP Funding

Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)

durwood ttc biketexasBikeTexas is seeking public policy change at the level of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), specifically at the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC), regarding the allocation of transportation funds. Under federal rules, TxDOT can move up to half the funds from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) into a general fund, moving away approximately $72 million every two years that is targeted by Congress for biking and walking. It may seem like a good idea to put more money toward our highway system, but $72 million over two years would only buy a few miles of highway at best. That same amount could build amazing biking and walking facilities, because a biking and walking network is only a fraction of the cost of building or rebuilding a highway. 

TxDOT has made some improvements in the way they allocate TAP funds, including making it easier for local areas for provide match through in-kind contributions and reducing the match requirements in economically disadvantaged counties.

The next step is getting the TTC to agree that the approximately $36 million every year would be better invested in building great projects for biking and walking instead of being moved into a general fund.

TAP funds Graphic - Letter

We're also working to educate TxDOT employees as well as people who work for MPOs around the state about the three categories of TAP funds. 

#1 (Large MPO) - An MPO automatically receives TAP funding for its own call for projects if its population is more than 200,000; it recieves a portion of the approximately $24M reserved for large MPOs, which is allocated based on population. The MPO has to do a call for projects within the area.

#2 (Small MPO) - TxDOT is required by federal law to hold a call for projects for all rural areas and urban areas with populations less than 200,000. That call is only for approximately $12M per year. (TxDOT will often lump several years of funding into a single call; for example, in 2015, TxDOT is issing a $52M call in category #2, which is about 4 years' worth of funding.) If a project is eligible for both #1 and #2, e.g. a small town inside a larger MPO, then it can only submit to one of the two calls.

#3 (TxDOT) - TxDOT has the choice of what to do with the remaining approximately $36 million per year, and so far it's chosen to move this money to a fund called STP-Flex where it can be spent on anything. These are the funds we ask the TTC every month to stop flexing and start using for a statewide call for bike/ped projects. TxDOT could use these funds to hold a call for projects and they could set any rules they want for that call, so any jurisdiction in the state could potentially be eligible if TxDOT had such a call and wrote rules for that call that made all jurisdictions eligible.

Many TxDOT folks are confused about these rules and will ask, "What are you talking about? We are doing a statewide call with TAP!" meaning category #2 funds (which is very misleading, since only a minority of the state's population is eligible for those projects), not realizing that we're asking them to do a call with category #3 funds.

That's what we're doing here. Every month, people from around the state who ride bikes address the TTC at the Commission's monthly meeting. People who ride bikes are being heard at the highest level of TxDOT. We will win this fight!

Follow the links below for updates on what's happened so far with TAP and to see the speakers each month at the TTC meetings.

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