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Section 5310

The Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program is a federal program that aims to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options. The RTA holds a biennial call for projects for recipients of Section 5310 funds to support mobility options for residents of the Chicago region. In 2021, the RTA awarded $10.8 million in federal funding to 12 projects. Read more about the ways these projects are helping people in a blog series called Moving You.

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Human Services Transportation Plan

The RTA is required to have a Human Services Transportation Plan for the region to guide the policy and strategy behind the Section 5310 program. Updated in 2021, the HSTP plan process included participation from seniors, nonprofit transportation and human service providers and other members of the public. It identifies the transportation needs of these groups, identifies strategies for meeting those needs, and prioritizes services and projects for funding.

The HSTP update identified nine coordinated transportation goals

1. Establish mobility management and travel training networks

2. Expand service areas and hours

3. Coordinate fare media and implement capped fares for certain trips

4. Coordinate volunteer driver support programs

5. Improve access to suburban jobs for residents with low incomes

6. Expand consolidated vehicle procurement types

7. Explore collaboration/consolidation of similar services

8. Establish a regional 1 call/1 click service

9. Create an accessibility infrastructure database

Learn more
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How to apply?

The next Call for Projects will open in Spring 2023. Visit this webpage next year for more detailed information about who is eligible to apply, types of projects, and application materials. Read more in the Section 5310 Program Management Plan.

For more information or questions about the program, please contact Heather Mullins at (312) 913-3244 or mullinsh@rtachicago.org. For information on IDOT’s Section 5310 Consolidated Vehicle program, which selects and awards paratransit vehicles to eligible applicants, contact Zoe.Keller@illinois.gov

Eligible Applicants and Projects

All applicants are encouraged to work with other interested parties that may use or be affected by proposed projects. Projects are evaluated, in part, on an applicant's demonstrated efforts to coordinate with other parties such as government agencies, transportation providers, and social service groups. Any coordination aspects of the project should be noted in the project description and evidenced through other appropriate documentation, such as partnership agreements and cooperative operational arrangements. Projects that do not demonstrate coordination will generally not be awarded, unless specific circumstances that prevent coordination (such as the need to transport agency clients with specific mobility assistance needs) are clearly outlined in the proposal.

Eligible subrecipients for Traditional Section 5310 Projects include:

  • Private nonprofit organization; or
  • State or local governmental authority that:
    • is approved by a state to coordinate services for seniors and individuals with disabilities; or
    • certifies that there are no nonprofit organizations readily available in the area to provide the service.

Eligible subrecipients for other eligible Section 5310 activities include:

  • a state or local governmental authority
  • a private nonprofit organization
  • an operator of public transportation that receives a Section 5310 grant indirectly through a recipient

In Northeastern Illinois, the RTA Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace), as FTA Direct Recipients, are allowed to apply for and receive grants directly from the FTA. Once the RTA awards a Section 5310 grant to a Service Board, they can then apply directly to the FTA for those funds. All other applicants receiving an award through the RTA-administered program becomes a grant subrecipient of the RTA. Subrecipients must be able to certify and demonstrate the ability to meet federal requirements regarding these programs during the application process.

Eligible Projects

Note: Rolling stock is not considered eligible for consideration under RTA calls for projects. IDOT is responsible for project selection and the award of Section 5310 funded paratransit vehicles in Northeastern Illinois and the RTA is responsible for all other Section 5310 projects. IDOT, through its Consolidated Vehicle Program (CVP), selects and awards paratransit vehicles to eligible applicants. For information regarding CVP, please contact Zoe.Keller@illinois.gov.

Eligible projects include those that are planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate, or unavailable. It may also be used for public transportation projects that exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended (ADA) that improve access to fixed‐route service and decrease reliance by individuals with disabilities on complementary paratransit, and for alternatives to public transportation that assist seniors and individuals with disabilities.

No less than 55 percent of funds awarded for Northeastern Illinois by fiscal year must be obligated to “traditional” Section 5310 projects. Traditional projects are those public transportation projects planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable, or inappropriate.

In order for a project to receive funding from the traditional category of funds, it must be a capital project related to 5310-funded vehicles and the sub-recipient must either be a non-profit agency or a local unit of government that certifies no non-profit organizations are readily available in the area to provide services. An operating project may also be funded from the traditional category of funds, provided the service is implemented by a non-profit agency, which contracts out services to a third party.

Previously RTA funded projects include coordinated paratransit services, volunteer driver program, expansion of an existing service, and general public demand responsive paratransit service. A complete list of previously funded Section 5310 subrecipients and project descriptions are available on RTAMS.

Detailed guidance regarding eligible projects from FTA on the Section 5310 Program can be found in the most recent Section 5310 Program Circular 9070.1G.

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