Yesterday, Democrats in the House of Representatives released their next COVID-19 relief bill. The bill includes $15 billion in emergency support for public transportation—while a start, it does not deliver enough to ensure that Missouri transit agencies can keep their workers healthy and safely return to service when this pandemic subsides.
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act includes the following for transit:
- $15.75 billion total for transit – $11.75 billion of which is allocated to areas over 3 million people, with 15 percent ($1.7625 billion) distributed under the section 5307 program and 85 percent ($9.9875 billion) allocated under the section 5337 program. Potential recipients would include the following according to ENO Foundation:
- NYC – $4.4 billion
- LA – $783 million
- Chicago – $1.526 billion
- Miami – $311.995 million
- Philadelphia – $872.7 million
- Dallas-Fort Worth – $209.8 million
- Houston – $87.1 million
- District of Columbia – $995.7 million
- Atlanta – $334.16 million
- Boston – $865.97 million
- Detroit – $35.825 million
- Phoenix – $76.7 million
- San Francisco – $848.3 million
- Seattle – $441.867 million
- $4 billion is allocated via a new discretionary program under the Section 5324 (Emergency Relief program). These funds are intended for agencies with the largest amount of revenue loss as a percentage of operations. Intercity bus contract operations are eligible under this program.
- Transit agencies serving communities with 500,000 or more people must require passengers to wear face coverings, and provide face coverings, sanitizer, and appropriate cleaning materials to their workforce. Agencies must also regularly clean and disinfect stations, railcars and busses, and enclosed workspaces according to CDC guidelines.
- Finally, the bill provides up to $10,000 in hazard pay for frontline transit workers making $200,000 or less, and up to $5,000 to workers making over $200,000
The majority of funds are for areas with over 3 million in population and leaving rural transit without support. Transit service in every state has taken an unprecedented hit as all of the traditional funding sources like fares, sales tax, and others have evaporated over the last two months. While the CARES Act offered some much needed emergency operating support at the outset of this crisis, the scale of the problem has become much clearer since.
“Missouri Public transit agencies provide essential to millions of Missourians. Transit is providing access to healthcare, essential industries and personal trips for groceries and other items. Transit in 2019 was supporting more than 29,000 jobs in Missouri with an economic return of more than $3 billion. Further emergency operating support is essential in Missouri to ensure transit service in urban and rural areas alike may continue to provide essential trips and work,” said Kim Cella, CMT Executive Director.
As a transit supporter, we ask that you reach out to your Congressional delegation about the need to ensure Missouri transit continues.