If the FRA decides that a line is a "commuter railroad" that does not fall under FTA's jurisdiction, the rolling stock, infrastructure and operations must comply with FRA requirements.
These procedures are well-proven and widely deployed, and transit industry planning professionals have long assumed that there is no reason why similar measures cannot be implemented in other transit applications.
the FRA evidently consider the Capital Metro Rail line in Austin to be a test case, and if they are successful in asserting their jurisdiction, they will do so for numerous other rail projects in development throughout the country This new policy stance by the FRA seems to fit into a consistent pattern of policy measures by the George W.
Many public transport professionals and advocates recognize that certain areas of federal transportation policy are in need of serious changes – and the issues raised by the FRA's jurisdictional ambitions are among these.
In particular, federal policy needs to formulate a consistent definition of terms and concepts such as "light railway", "light rail transit", and "commuter railroad".
The FRA now seems to be insisting that, in most cases, these are not light railways, but must be considered "commuter railroads", and therefore must comform with FRA's full requirements for "heavy" railroad operations.
In recent years, FTA policies have made it increasingly difficult for local areas to receive funding for new rail transit projects, so transit agencies have increasingly sought other sources of funds to finance these projects.
This issue is very important because, by requiring "heavy" facilities, rolling stock, and operating practices, these FRA requirements could make it cost-prohibitive to implement many new rail transit services.
Indeed, the numerous interurban trolley systems that used to run in many locations throughout the country might not have been able to operate under these requirements.
In a policy initiative that has emerged most recently with respect to Capital Metro's light railway project in Austin, Texas, the FRA is threatening to put such restrictive requirements on these lines (under certain conditions) that local entities will be discouraged from attempting to implement them.