The Federal Transit Administration is taking “expressions of interest” through Oct. 23 for a voluntary pilot program in which small nonprofit transit providers would cooperatively buy buses, vans or other types of rolling stock, as a way to try to reduce per-unit costs.
The agency expressly noted that this could help providers of rural transit services and those in small towns, and could allow the nonprofits to cooperate in the purchases across state borders.
“The program is designed to address the high purchasing costs attributable to the relatively small size of the procurements for rolling stock and related equipment, particularly for small urban and rural public transportation providers,” the FTA said.
In an Aug. 22 Federal Register notice, the FTA said the pilot was authorized by Section 3019 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act in 2015.
That section, it said, “was designed to address the high purchasing costs attributable to the relatively small size of the procurements for rolling stock and related equipment, particularly for small and rural public transportation providers.”
It also explained how this program would differ from traditional practice. “Many states currently have authority to enter into cooperative purchasing contracts, also known as ‘state schedules.’ However, such authority was not previously extended to nonprofit entities.”
Under this pilot, the FTA said in the Register notice, “these contracts are intended to be separate from state cooperative purchasing contracts.”
Instead, where permitted by state law multiple nonprofits may joint together in procurement contracts with one or more vendors. One transit provider takes the lead, but “a grantee may participate in a cooperative procurement contract under the pilot program without regard to whether the grantee is located in the same state as the lead nonprofit entity.”