CARES Act and transit

April 8, 2020

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the transportation sector is expected to receive more than $114 billion in funding.

chrome subway train in station with white tiles

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

On April 2, 2020 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the allocation of $25 billion in federal funding to “recipients of urbanized area and rural area formula funds.” Of the $25 billion, $22.7 billion is for large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion is for rural areas. No match is required and is to aid capital, operating, and other expenses normally authorized under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. Operating expenses incurred beginning on January 20, 2020 for all rural and urban recipients, even those in large urban areas, 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. 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. ”
— Jane Williams
FTA Acting Administrator

FTA is also supporting the transit sector through:

  • Expanded eligibility of federal assistance under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program
  • Established an Emergency Relief docket that allows transit providers to request temporary relief from federal requirements
  • Provided a 30-day extension to current competitive grant program funding opportunities

Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

According to the New York-Newark-New Jersey-Connecticut region will receive $1.5 billion, the Philadelphia-New Jersey-Pennsylvania region will receive $125 million, and New York will receive $3.8 billion. Further, New Jersey Transit asked for $1.25 billion and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requested $1.9 billion to cover their losses and expenses due to coronavirus.

It is important to note that 36 percent of transit riders are essential workers, such as nurses and medical technicians. Transit service is critical to long-term economic recovery.

City Lab co-founder and editor at large Richard Florida recently wrote, “Beyond emergency infusions of cash to keep the systems solvent during this first wave of the pandemic when ridership is low or nonexistent, design changes in stations and seating will be needed when they are back in service.”

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