The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced a total of USD 14 billion in federal funding allocations to continue to support the country’s public transit systems which are facing the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The funding is provided through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act 2021 signed by President Donald Trump on December 27, 2020.
In April 2020, FTA announced a USD 25 billion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) programme.
The grants “will help ensure our nation’s public transport systems can continue to serve the millions of Americans who depend on them,” said the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who will be succeeded by Pete Buttigieg, who was nominated in December 2020.
USD 13.27 billion funding will be provided to large and small urban areas and USD 678.2 million is the allocation for rural areas and tribes, while USD 50 million will be allocated for the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities. Similar to the CARES Act, the supplemental funding will be provided at 100-percent federal share, with no local match required.
“We know that many of our Nation’s public transportation systems continue to face challenges due to COVID-19, and these supplemental funds will help ensure that safe transit services remain available for riders traveling to jobs, health care and other essential services in communities across America,” FTA Deputy Administrator Jane Williams said.
All funds made available under the CARES Act may be used for operating expenses.
Due to pandemic crisis, numerous authorities that manage the public transit systems announced the challenge they face requesting federal funding to maintain the transport services as well as the economic situation, which also includes the contracts with the industry.
In December, MTA asked for a USD 4.5 billion in federal aid to continue its activities, while CTA approved the 2021 budget which is dependent on the federal funding. In October, Amtrak has informed the Congress that needs USD 4.85 billion funding to preserve its services and the capital programme.
In December, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) its members, industry partners and other stakeholders urged the Congress and the U.S. Administration to save the public transport systems. All the parties were calling the federal authorities to provide at least USD 32 billion in emergency funding to ensure that public transit agencies can survive and help the communities and the nation recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“The public transport industry is facing an existential financial crisis, and emergency funding has never been more urgent. A bipartisan, bicameral coronavirus relief aid package is being discussed in the lame duck session, but that can be only a starting point for negotiations,” APTA said.