Public Transportation: Better Data Needed to Assess Length of New Starts Process, and Options Exist to Expedite Project Development, Report to Congressional Committees [open pdf - 700KB]
From the Highlights: "The New Starts program is an important source of new capital investment in mass transportation. To be eligible for federal funding, a project must advance through the different project development phases of the New Starts program, including alternatives analysis, preliminary engineering, and final design. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) evaluates projects as a condition for advancement into each project development phase of the program. FTA has acted recently to streamline the process. This report discusses the (1) time it has generally taken for projects to move through the New Starts process and what Congress and FTA have done to expedite the process and (2) options that exist to expedite the process. In response to a legislative mandate, GAO reviewed statutes, FTA guidance and regulations, and project data. GAO also interviewed Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, projects sponsors, and industry stakeholders."
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/