Proposed policy change could expand funding options for US airport rail projects

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USA: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Federal Register Notice seeking public comment on proposed changes in the Passenger Facility Charge programme.

Currently, passenger facility charge (PFC) funds may support rail projects that are on airport property only if they are for the exclusive use of airport patrons and employees. The proposed change would expand the funding eligibility to include selected additional elements of airport rail projects meeting certain criteria, even if they are not solely for the exclusive use of airport patrons and employees.

Based on the FAA’s experience, the agency believes the current eligibility criteria for PFC funding of rail projects may be too stringent and should be reevaluated because of the changing demographic and population trends. The FAA is trying to strike a balance between the public interest and the PFC requirements for ground access projects.

“Many airports that were originally constructed on the periphery of population centers, now find themselves ensconced as suburban growth has extended to and beyond the airport. As such, it may no longer make sense for a “downtown” rail or transit line to terminate at the airport, as there now exists a pool of potential users beyond the airport. However, under current policy, which equates on-airport rail projects with “access roads,” extending rail/transit access beyond the airport so that these populations can also access the airport precludes the use of federally-approved funds, such as PFCs, for significant portions of the project since the line would go beyond the airport and no longer serves airport traffic exclusively,” states the proposal.

The proposed policy change may provide greater access to the nation’s airports through intermodal transportation connections.

The FAA invites interested persons to submit written comments, data, or views concerning this proposal. The 30-day comment period ends on June 2, 2016 and comments may be filed at: www.regulations.gov.

Read the full proposal here: https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2016-6596-0001