Public transportation includes buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, passenger ferry boats, trolleys, inclined railways, and people movers. The federal government, through the FTA, provides financial assistance to develop new transit systems and improve, maintain, and operate existing systems. The FTA oversees grants to state and local transit providers, primarily through its ten regional offices. These providers are responsible for managing their programs in accordance with federal requirements, and the FTA is responsible for ensuring that grantees follow federal mandates along with statutory and administrative requirements.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy sent a major transportation message to the U.S. Congress. It called for the establishment of a program of federal capital assistance for mass transportation. Said President Kennedy: "To conserve and enhance values in existing urban areas is essential. But at least as important are steps to promote economic efficiency and livability in areas of future development. Our national welfare therefore requires the provision of good urban transportation, with the properly balanced use of private vehicles and modern mass transport to help shape as well as serve urban growth."
President Lyndon Johnson signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law, which passed the House by a vote of 212-129 and cleared the Senate 52-41, creating the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. The agency was charged with providing federal assistance for mass transit projects, including an initial $375 million in capital assistance over three years as mandated by the act. In 1991, the agency was renamed the Federal Transit Administration.
The current Acting Administrator is K. Jane Williams, having assumed the post in 2017. The last confirmed FTA Administrator, from May 2009 to January 2014, was Peter M. Rogoff. Below is a list of past administrators.