Lifeline Transportation Program

The Lifeline Transportation Program (LTP) was established by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to improve mobility for low-income communities, and it is one of the few instances where NVTA has the ability to program funds for operating purposes.

The LTP is a grant program intended to address gaps and/or barriers in transportation for low-income communities, and to improve the range of travel choices available to the people of those communities. Projects are developed through a collaborative and open planning process, and must be drawn from available Community-Based Transportation Plans, countywide or regional Welfare to Work Plans, or otherwise documented assessment of needs within communities of concern.


Eligible Applicants

Public agencies, including transit agencies, county social service agencies, cities and counties, and private operators of public transportation services are eligible applicants.

Non-profit entities are directly eligible for JARC funds. In order to be eligible for STA funds, a non-profit entity would need to partner with an eligible STA recipient to receive funds (see Attachment B for eligible STA recipients). STA funds can be used for project administration of eligible projects and could be budgeted into project costs to facilitate a fiscal partnership with an eligible STA recipient.

An eligible project sponsor must be identified at the time that the project application for funding is submitted in order to receive funds.


Program Goals

The Lifeline Transportation Program is intended to fund projects that result in improved mobility for low-income residents of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties, and are expected to carry out the following regional Lifeline Program goals:

The Lifeline Program supports community-based transportation projects that:

  • Are developed through a collaborative and inclusive planning process that includes broad partnerships among a variety of stakeholders such as public agencies, transit operators, community-based organizations and other community stakeholders, and outreach to underrepresented stakeholders.
  • Improve a range of transportation choices by adding a variety of new or expanded services including but not limited to: enhanced fixed route transit services, shuttles, children’s programs, taxi voucher programs, improved access to autos, and capital improvement projects.
  • Address transportation gaps and/or barriers identified in Community-Based Transportation Plans (CBTP) or other substantive local planning efforts involving focused outreach to low-income populations. While preference will be given to community-based plan priorities, strategies emerging from countywide or regional welfare-to-work transportation plans, the Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan or other documented assessment of need within the designated communities of concern will also be considered. Findings emerging from one or more CBTPs or other relevant planning efforts may also be applied to other low-income areas, or otherwise be directed to serve low-income constituencies within the county, as applicable.
  • Transportation needs specific to elderly and disabled residents of low-income communities may also be considered when funding projects. Existing transportation services may also be eligible for funding.

Program Administration

The Lifeline Program are administered by county congestion management agencies (CMAs) or other designated county-wide agencies, or Lifeline Program Administrators, as follows:


Lifeline Program Administrator


Alameda County Congestion Management Agency

Contra Costa

Contra Costa Transportation Authority


Transportation Authority of Marin


Napa Valley Transportation Authority

San Francisco

San Francisco County Transportation Authority

San Mateo

City/County Association of Governments

Santa Clara

Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority and Santa Clara County


Solano Transportation Authority


Sonoma County Transportation Authority


Funding Sources

The Lifeline Transportation Program is funded with a combination of three funding sources: State Transit Assistance (STA), Proposition 1B Transit funds and Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) funds. Projects must meet eligibility requirements of the funding sources in order to receive funds.


Match Requirement

The Lifeline Program requires a minimum local match of 20% of the total project cost; new Lifeline Transportation Program funds may cover a maximum of 80% of the total project cost.

There are two exceptions to the 20% match requirement.

(1) JARC operating projects require a 50% match. Lifeline Program Administrators may use STA funds to cover the 30% difference for projects that are eligible for both JARC and STA funds.

(2) All auto-related projects require a 50% match.

Project sponsors may use federal or local funding sources (Transportation Development Act, operator controlled State Transit Assistance, local sales tax revenue, etc.) to meet the match requirement. The match may include a non-cash component such as donations, volunteer services, or in-kind contributions as long as the value of each is documented and supported, represents a cost that would otherwise be eligible under the program and is included in the net project costs in the project budget.

For JARC projects, if using federal funds, the local match must be from non-Department of Transportation (DOT) funds. Non-DOT federal funds may be eligible sources of local match and may include: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) and Social Services Block Grants (SSBG) administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Community Development Block grants (CDBG) and HOPE VI grants administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Grant funds from private foundations and other local sources may also be used to meet the match requirement.

Eligible Use of Program Funds

Lifeline Transportation Program funds are intended to fund innovative and flexible programs that address transportation barriers that low-income residents in the region face, many of whom are transit dependent. Therefore, it is expected that LTP funds be directed to meet these needs by funding new programs or services, or to continue existing programs that are otherwise at risk of being discontinued. The project must supplement, not supplant, existing funds. The project must not duplicate existing services, must coordinate with existing services to the extent feasible and demonstrate that no other funding sources are available to fund it.

Grant Funding Period

Projects may be funded for up to three years.

Grant Funding Amounts

Lifeline Program Administrators will establish a minimum and maximum grant amount for any one project over the three-year funding period (FY 2011 to FY 2013). Multi-year projects are allowed as long as the total Lifeline amount does not exceed the threshold established at the local level, and the project sponsor has clearly identified the funding match for each year of the project period.

Link to Community-based Planning

Preference will be given to projects identified in Community-Based Transportation Plans (CBTP) and located within the communities in which the plans were completed. While preference will be given to CBTP priorities, strategies emerging from countywide or regional welfare-to-work transportation plans, the Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan or other documented assessment of need within the designated communities of concern will also be considered. Findings emerging from one or more CBTPs or other relevant planning efforts may also be applied to other low-income areas, or otherwise be directed to serve low-income constituencies within the county, as applicable.

Project Performance/Monitoring

Project applicants are responsible for identifying performance measures to track the effectiveness of the service in meeting the identified goals. At a minimum, performance measures for service related projects would include: documentation of new “units” of service provided with the funding (e.g. number of trips, service hours, workshops held, car loans provided, etc.), cost per unit of service, and a quantitative summary of service delivery procedures employed for the project. For capital-related projects, project sponsor is responsible to establish milestones and report on the status of project delivery.

Applicants should describe a plan for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the service, as well as steps to be taken if original goals are not achieved. Project sponsors receiving JARC funds are subject to program reporting requirements as defined in those program guidelines.

Grant Application Submittal Requirements

To ensure a streamlined application process for project sponsors throughout the region, a universal grant application form is attached starting on page 10.

Grant Application Review and Evaluation Process

Lifeline Program Administrators are responsible for determining whether proposals meet the minimum Lifeline Program eligibility criteria (whether eligible fiscal agents are identified, and whether projects meet fund source eligibility requirements) and assigning appropriate fund sources to each project.

Lifeline Program Administrators will evaluate all eligible proposals. Each county will appoint a local review team of CMA staff, a local representative from MTC’s Minority Citizens Advisory Committee (if available), as well as representatives of local stakeholders, such as, transit operators or other transportation providers, community-based organizations, social service agencies, and local jurisdictions, to score and select projects. Project evaluations will be based on the rating criteria described on the next page. Efforts will be made to avoid a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, in selecting projects.

Standard evaluation criteria will be used to assess and select projects. The six criteria include (1) project need/stated goals and objectives, (2) community-based transportation plan (CBTP) priority (3) implementation plan, (4) project budget/sustainability, (5) coordination and program outreach, and (6) cost-effectiveness and performance indicators. Lifeline Program Administrators may establish the weight to be assigned for each criterion in the assessment process*.

Additional criteria may be added to a county program but should not replace or supplant the regional criteria. MTC staff will review the proposed county program criteria to ensure consistency and to facilitate coordination among county programs.

Based on the evaluation criteria, and funding availability as assigned by county, Lifeline Program Administrators will make funding recommendations to their respective policy boards for approval, and will then submit the list of recommended projects to MTC.

MTC will confirm that projects meet fund source eligibility requirements, and will allocate funds to each project by including submitted projects in a Program of Projects for the Commission’s approval.

Lifeline Program Administrators are responsible for entering eligible JARC projects into the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). If STA funds are used, MTC will allocate funds directly to a transit operator or other eligible entity. See Attachment A for additional details related to the estimated availability of funds to project sponsors.

Grant Award and Receipt of Funds

Following project award and prior to receipt of funds, project sponsors must submit a resolution of local support to MTC committing to project delivery, as well as providing the required local matching funds.

For projects receiving STA funds:

Transit operators and eligible cities and counties can initiate claims immediately following MTC approval of program of projects for current fiscal year funds.

For other entities, the eligible recipient acting as fiscal agent will initiate a funding agreement following MTC approval of program of projects. Funds will be available on a reimbursement basis following execution of the agreement.



Lifeline Cycle 3 Program of Projects

  • Paratransit Vehicles- Purchase three (3) Vine Go paratransit vans to allow more appointments to be made and increase the efficiency of paratransit services. The project will give more mobility options to low-income residents with disabilities.
  • Replacement Buses for American Canyon- Purchase two (2) replacement buses for American Canyon. New buses will improve the efficiency of the system and improve on-time performance.
  • Napa Valley College Northbound Shelter- Create a shelter to serve Vine routes heading northbound along James Diemer Drive. Currently northbound and southbound buses use the same stop located on the west side of the street. The northbound stop will create more convenient loading and offloading of passengers, an easier route to negotiate for the drivers, and improve the on-time performance of the Vine routes serving the college.
  • Operating Assistance for new Vine Routes- Improve and expand service within the City of Napa. The new routes will address numerous issues listed in the community-based transportation plan, specifically improving travel times, connectivity between routes, frequency of buses, on-time performance, and a pulse system.
  • Community Based Transportation Plan Update- Update Napa’s community-based transportation plan.
  • ADA Bus Stop Upgrades- ADA and accessibility improvements at bus stops that are used on a frequent basis.


Lifeline Cycle 2 Program of Projects

  • Rolling Stock Acquisition- Bus purchase for replacement rolling stock.
  • Napa Shuttle, FlexRIDE Shuttle and Vine Express- Operating assistance for the Napa Shuttle, FlexRIDE Shuttle and Vine Express. These programs provide service to low-income residents, including senior and disabled populations, and provide transportation to training, jobs and services.
  • Vine Route 11- Extend operation of Vine rural connector service (route 11) between Calistoga and Santa Rosa.
  • Bus passenger accommodations-Provide for the purchase and installation of 14 bus shelters and benches, 21 stand-alone benches, and 21 up-Valley iStops with seating
  • Agricultural Worker Vanpool Program-Operating Assistance to implement the Napa County Agriculture Worker Vanpool Program. Vouchers will be used to offset the participant's cost of riding the vanpool.


Lifeline Cycle 1 Program of Projects

  • Installation of Bus Shelters and Seating- Purchase and install bus shelters and seating at various Vine bus stops throughout Napa County.