U. S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the U. S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration will allocate a total of $25 billion in federal funding to help the public transportation system respond to COVID-19.
The funding, provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, would provide grants to recipients of urbanized area and rural area formula funds to be used for capital, operating and other expenses the recipients may need them form.
“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,” Chao said.
Urban areas would be allocated $22.7 billion, while rural areas would be allocated $2.2 billion. The money could be used to cover operating expenses incurred since January 20, 2020. Recipients could also use the money to pay for maintaining transit services, or for administrative leave for transit personnel forced to take time off because of 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.”
The FTA will take several other steps to support the transit industry during the coronavirus pandemic, the agency said. The agency will expand the eligibility for federal assistance available under the FTA’s Emergency Relief Program to help transit agencies in states where governors have declared a state of emergency. Transit providers can now use federal formula funds under the Urbanized Area Formula Program and the Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program for emergency-related expenses, including capital and operations, the agency said, including the purchase of personal protective equipment or special-purpose trips.
The agency also extended the deadlines for competitive grant program applications, including grants for buses and bus facilities, passenger ferry programs, increased mobility grants, and HOPE (Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone) grants.
Information about available funds can be found on the USDOT website.