Senate Relief Bill Includes $20 Billion for Transit

The Senate COVID-19 Relief bill currently includes $20 billion for public transit with $4 billion earmarked for rural transit.  The Senate is now in negotiations with House leaders to include a revised version of the trillion-dollar-plus relief bill to contain almost $90 billion in federal assistance for transportation. The House is also leading a separate effort to create and pass its own version of a relief package.

A new division of the draft Senate bill providing appropriations includes $31.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation, including $20 billion for transit providers, $10 billion for airports, and $1 billion for Amtrak, as follows:

The bill appropriates $20 billion in “transit infrastructure grants” to transit systems “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” and is split 80-20 between the section 5307 urbanized area formula grant distribution and the section 5311 rural area formula grant distribution, respectively.

The bill says that “notwithstanding 49 U.S.C. 5307(a)(1) or (b), 49 U.S.C. 5311(b) or 49 U.S.C. 5324(1), funds provided under this heading in this Act are available for the operating expenses of transit agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus related to the response to a public health emergency as defined under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, including reimbursement for operating costs and lost revenue, the purchase of personal protective equipment, and applicable preventive maintenance, such as vehicle cleaning: Provided further, That such operating expenses are not required to be included in a transportation improvement program, long-range transportation, statewide transportation plan or a statewide transportation improvement program: Provided further, That recipients of assistance under this heading in this Act should make every effort to appropriately adjust operations in response to reduced demand as a result of coronavirus: Provided further, notwithstanding 49 U.S.C. 5324(d), the Secretary shall not waive the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5333 for funds appropriated under this heading in this Act or for funds previously made available under 49 U.S.C. 5307 or 49 U.S.C. 5311 as a result of coronavirus.”

For more information about the Senate bill – click here.

“It is imperative that Missourians reach out to our Congressional delegation about the importance of public transit as a part of this relief package.  Transit is essential now and will be even more essential as we get back to the business of building safe, sustainable and economically viable communities,” said Kim Cella, MPTA Executive Director.

“Right now, Missouri transit providers are working tirelessly to provide as much service as possible, but they are facing dropping fare box recover, increased expenses from new cleaning protocols and significant driver absenteeism yet still delivering essential personnel to their jobs including nurses, doctors, first responders and more.   They have our communities’ backs, and we must work to cover them.”

For more information about the House bill being drafted – click here.