Technical assistance is the provision of specific information and support to help subrecipients comply with applicable state and federal regulations and to implement best practices. In a broad sense, it includes data-gathering or outreach to assess which subrecipients are in need of assistance, and it is generally understood that technical assistance is different from training (though the two could overlap). Many states indicated that they provide one-on-one, hands-on assistance to subrecipients as needed, annually, or at another pre-determined interval.
Technical assistance provided by State RTAP programs may include, but is not limited to, the following topics:
- ADA Complementary Paratransit Service
- Asset Management/Maintenance
- Driver Training and Development
- Drug and Alcohol Testing Program
- Federal Requirements and Reporting
- Financial Management
- Passenger Relations and Standards
- Policy Development and Review
- Program Management
- Project Management
- Safety and Security
- Service Delivery and Design
The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) uses data to drive its technical assistance program. NMDOT uses the results of the deficiencies and recommendations reported for subrecipients during biennial Technical Oversight and Compliance Reviews to determine technical assistance needs of their Section 5310 and 5311 agencies. The desired results of this data analysis allow for more targeted technical assistance (and relevant training, if necessary) as well as the implementation of best practices strategies. NMDOT coordinates with its Transit Association, which receives RTAP funds, to provide some of this technical assistance/training, including at the annual conference.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has a Transit Technical Services Program (TTSP) that provides focused technical assistance to Rural Transit Districts. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Technical assistance is offered in three areas:
- Financial management and analysis
- Capital project development
- Operational and service analysis
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provides resources for training and technical assistance to rural transportation providers through an RTAP peer review program. The peer review can focus on the entire agency or one element of an agency. A rural agency initiates the request, which includes a specific problem statement, for a peer review by a team facilitated by the Public Transportation Division of WSDOT.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation Division of Public Transit (DPT) uses its RTAP funds to provide technical assistance related to driver training, marketing, route and service planning, safety and security, drug and alcohol testing, and technology initiatives, including general transit feed standard (GTFS) implementation. The program provides scholarships to attend national conferences and sponsors an annual managers’ meeting.
Some states outsource the management of their RTAP funds, to universities or third-party contractors. For example, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contracts the University of South Florida to manage its Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). CUTR uses internal and outside contractors to provide specific technical assistance.
State RTAP managers can use National RTAP’s State RTAP Managers' Forum as a venue to exchange information and share best practices as it relates to technical assistance. State RTAP managers can also utilize AASHTO’s Multi-State Technical Assistance Program (MTAP) to communicate with other state-level public transit agencies about technical assistance needs and best practices. Transit operators can find technical assistance resources from a variety of sources to include National RTAP’s Peer-to-Peer Network and Transit Manager’s Forum, CTAA, and many other organizations that are listed in the How to Find Anything Toolkit.
Updated April 20, 2021