WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced that the CARES Act is providing $25 billion in federal funding allocations to help the nation’s public transportation systems respond to covid-19.
Funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed by President Donald J. Trump on March 27.
“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Funding allocated to urban, rural areas
FTA is allocating $25 billion to recipients of urbanized area and rural area formula funds. Approximately $23 billion is being allocated to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion to rural areas. Funding will be provided at a 100 percent federal share, with no local match required. The money will be available to support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to covid-19.
Further, operating expenses incurred beginning on Jan. 20 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,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “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.”
Expanding eligibility of federal assistance
In addition to the funding allocation, FTA has taken a number of steps to support the transit industry during this public health emergency. Steps include expanding the eligibility of federal assistance available under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program to help transit agencies respond to covid-19 in states where an emergency has been declared.
All transit providers, including those in large urban areas, can now use federal formula funds under the Urbanized Area Formula Program and Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program for emergency-related capital and operating expenses. This includes the provision of personal protective equipment or special-purpose trips.