Rural Transit Solutions Fund: Frequently asked questions

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If you have a question that is not answered below or if you would like to discuss the application process or learn more about the Rural Transit Solutions Fund, you may contact the Infrastructure Canada team at RTSF-FSTCR@infc.gc.ca or toll free at 1-833-699-2280.

Who can apply for funding under the Rural Transit Solutions Fund?

Municipal, local or regional governments such as service districts; and Indigenous organizations (Indigenous development corporations, Indigenous governing bodies) can apply. Not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply, if they have documented support from a municipal, local or regional government or Indigenous organization.

Provinces and Territories can apply for capital contributions.

Individuals; private citizens; and federal entities, including federal Crown corporations cannot apply.

Are municipalities eligible to apply to the Rural Transit Solutions Fund?

Due to the diversity of Canadian communities and public transit needs, applicants must demonstrate how their projects will meet the needs of their communities, how they define themselves as rural, and how their project meets the Rural Transit Solutions Fund's merit criteria.  

What activities are eligible for funding under the Rural Transit Solutions Fund?

Eligible planning and design projects could include assessing routes and modes of travel, feasibility studies, public and stakeholder engagement and surveys.

Capital projects could include capital expenses that support the delivery of a rural transit solution. Eligible modes of transport include fixed-route buses, ride-shares, other on-demand services, and intermodal hubs.

Eligible capital expenditures can include:

  • Construction or procurement of bus stops, buses, minivans, small craft, etc.;
  • Procurement of zero-emission buses or vehicles;
  • Engineering, and consultation fees, including fees associated with maintenance building, renovating or improving fixed capital assets (e.g. garage, bus stations) during the period of the project;
  • Costs associated with data collection, the evaluation of projects and information exchange and dissemination of the results of the project in relevant format, at the regional, national or international levels; and
  • Other costs that are considered to be direct and necessary for the successful implementation of the project and that are approved in advance by Infrastructure Canada.

Eligible projects will be expected to focus on meeting the everyday mobility requirements of rural residents, such as accessing services and commuting to work.

Proposed solutions that rely on air travel as a means of serving the community are not eligible under the Rural Transit Solution Fund.

Will operating costs be considered in these applications?

Under the current call for proposals, the Rural Transit Solutions Fund will support only planning activities and capital costs related to the implementation of viable public transit solutions for rural and remote communities. Operating costs are not currently an eligible expense.

Will private bus operators be eligible under the Rural Transit Solutions Fund?

While for profit organizations are not eligible to apply under the Rural Transit Solutions Fund, they may partner with an eligible organization to facilitate implementation of a rural transit solution. For such projects, the ownership of the infrastructure or rolling stock must remain with the eligible organization.

Can Rural Transit Solutions Fund support long-distance and inter-regional travel services?

The Rural Transit Solutions Fund is not designed to support long-distance inter-regional travel routes that connect cities across regions, provinces, and territories.

Provincial and territorial governments are primarily responsible for establishing market controls for the intercity bus sector, including assuming operational oversight regarding fares, routes, and schedules. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to local transit services and needs. Moreover, some provinces have already started enhancing funding for intercity bus services within their jurisdiction.

While some transportation networks include a range of transportation options beyond intercity bus, we know that gaps remain, especially in rural and remote areas.

The Government of Canada will work with provincial partners to explore options to address any remaining gaps in service. We will also continue to work with communities to help find the best transit solutions to support residents and promote economic growth.

How are applications assessed? What are the merit criteria?

The Rural Transit Solutions Fund is a direct application program. Applicants will need to provide sufficient information in their application form for Infrastructure Canada to review and assess the proposal based on the merit criteria. The merit criteria are outlined in the appropriate applicant guide. They can be found here:

How is the Rural Transit Solutions Fund different from other Government of Canada investments in transportation and transit?

The Rural Transit Solutions Fund is the first federal fund to target the development of transit solutions in rural communities.

While rural and remote communities are eligible for ICIP, funding allocated under the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream tended to prioritize large-scale capital projects and well established solutions, leaving gaps to support the development of new transit models – especially that meet the needs and account for the realities of people living in rural and remote communities.

Is there a funding allocation for provinces and territories?

Infrastructure Canada will directly fund projects for eligible recipients - provinces and territories may apply for capital project contributions. They may also partner with other eligible recipients.

What is the cost limit of a planning project?

This is no limit to the cost of a planning project. Total federal funding available as a planning grant under the Rural Transit Solution Program is limited to $50,000 and Infrastructure Canada will not provide additional payment for costs overruns.

Additionally, funding from all federal sources cannot surpass 100% for projected costs for planning projects.

What is the cost limit of a capital project?

There is no limit to the cost of a capital project, however the maximum contribution from the Rural Transit Solutions Fund is limited to $3,000,000 for conventional solutions, or up to $5,000,000 if the project incorporates zero-emission solutions. A Contribution Agreement will establish the federal contribution for each project as well as the conditions under which federal contribution installment payments will be made. Infrastructure Canada will not provide additional payment for costs overruns.

Does an organization have to apply for the Planning and Design Projects stream to be able to apply for the Capital Projects stream?

No.

Could I submit an application to receive funding for a project that has already started?

No. The application should describe a contained project that can be assessed against the program merit criteria independently of other ongoing work with respect to transit in the community. Supporting documentation associated with related community projects may be provided for consideration by Infrastructure Canada during the assessment phase, but any ongoing work would not be considered for new funding.

What is the earliest date I can start my project if it is approved for funding?

A tentative start date and timelines should be identified in your application. Any contracts signed before approval by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities will not be eligible for a RTSF grant (planning stream) or contribution (capital stream). Federal funding will be provided to the recipient only once a grant agreement (for planning projects) or a contribution agreement (for capital projects) is signed.

What approach will be used to allocate the 10% of funding dedicated to Indigenous Peoples?

The Rural Transit Solutions Fund will dedicate a minimum of 10% of its funding for First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and other non-status or non-affiliated groups and urban Indigenous organizations.

The allocation will be influenced by the number of applications received, as well as the assessment of the applications based on the established merit criteria.