Feds Sending $14 Billion to Transit, $1 Billion to Amtrak as Part of $2.3 Trillion Bill

An Amtrak train passes through New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 2018. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The federal appropriations measure Congress passed this week includes $14 billion in “emergency funding” for public transit and $1 billion for Amtrak, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

The money is part of the roughly 5,600-page Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, H.R. 133. It incorporates a $900 billion COVID-19 economic stimulus package, and a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the federal 2021 fiscal year.

“This $14 billion of desperately needed emergency transit funding is vital to the industry’s survival and is a much-needed immediate step in bolstering an industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said in a statement.

The transit allocation includes $4 billion for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), but agency leaders say it may not be enough. In October, MTA officials said they need $12 billion in federal dollars, or they may be forced to take “draconian service reductions.”

“We are relieved and thankful to see Congress pass another coronavirus relief bill that includes $4 billion in federal relief for the MTA,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said in a statement. “This crucial funding will allow us to get through 2021 without devastating service cuts and layoffs of over 9,000 colleagues.

“To be clear, we are still facing an $8 billion deficit in the years ahead, but this is a promising first step that will help protect the local, state and national economies in the short term,” Foye added. “We hope any future bills will fully offset the impact of the pandemic as there can be no recovery without a strong public transportation system serving as the engine for progress.”

In a statement, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said the $1 billion “is intended to be a temporary band-aid that will help Amtrak and our state and commuter partners.” However, “it is critical for minimizing negative impacts to our customers, employees and service between now and the end of March.”

“We look forward to working with the next Congress and new Administration on additional FY21 funding so we can restore service, bring back furloughed employees and continue our progress on vital capital projects,” Flynn added. “This near-term support, coupled with significant new investments through an infrastructure or stimulus bill to expand the Amtrak network through new corridor routes, would create thousands of new jobs, reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, and help the economy recover and flourish in the years ahead.”

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