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Has the law changed regarding art in public transit?

Yes.  Prior to 2013, federal transit law permitted the use of FTA grant funds for costs associated with including art in public transportation projects. This was one of several types of projects termed “transit enhancements” for which transit agencies were required to spend a certain amount of their FTA formula grant funds.
Beginning in FY 2013, federal transit law no longer included art as an eligible project expense. (49 U.S.C. 5302, as amended by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), P.L 112-141.) In response to this change, FTA advised that while works of art not integral to a facility, such as sculptures, would no longer be eligible, transit agencies could continue to use FTA funds to support the employment of an artist as a member of a design team, or other costs associated with art, provided that the artistic elements were integrally related to the facility or served a functional transit-related purpose.
With the enactment of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), P.L. 114-94, in FY 2016, Congress established a new prohibition on the use of FTA funds for “incremental costs of incorporating art or non-functional landscaping into facilities, including the costs of an artist on the design team.” (49 U.S.C. 5323(h)(2) as amended by FAST.)

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