The Federal Transit Administration has handed out $25 billion in taxpayer money to help public transportation systems nationwide respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who depend on them,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.
The FTA is allocating $25 billion to recipients of urbanized and rural area formula funds. Of that, $22.7 billion allocated to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion allocated to rural areas.
The funding is provided at a 100 percent federal share, and no local match us required. It available to support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, officials said.
Moreover, operating expenses incurred beginning on January 20 for all rural and urban recipients are also eligible, including operating expenses to maintain transit services as well as paying for administrative leave for transit personnel due to reduced operations during an emergency.
“We know that many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges and these funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a news release. “These federal funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies, including those in large urban areas, as well as pay transit workers across the country not working because of the public health emergency.”
In addition to the $25 billion funding allocation, the FTA said it has taken several steps to support the transit industry during this public health emergency. The measures include expanding the eligibility of federal assistance available under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program.
All transit providers can use federal formula funds under the Urbanized Area Formula Program and Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program for emergency-related capital and operating expenses, officials said. This includes the provision of personal protective equipment or special-purpose trips.
The FTA also established an emergency relief docket to allow transit providers in states where the governor has declared a COVID-19 emergency to ask for temporary relief from federal requirements. The FTA also announced that it would provide a 30-day extension of the deadline for current competitive grant program funding opportunities.