Transit Agencies Seek More Emergency Aid

Leaders of 15 public transit agencies have written to Congress seeking additional emergency aid for public transportation.

The letter was signed by the heads of agencies in Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Newark, Oakland (California), Washington, Miami, Atlanta, and San Carlos (California.).

The letter did not specify a dollar amount but in a news release the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York said its estimates show transit agencies in the United States need $32 billion to enable them to get through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

The Rail Passengers Association said on Friday the American Public Transportation Association wrote a similar letter seeking $23.8 billion in emergency assistance.

That funding would be divided into $19 billion provided through the Emergency Relief Program, which would be distributed proportionally to all public transit agencies with a demonstrated need; and $4.75 billion provided through Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Grants; and Rural Area Formula Grants.

There would be no required local of state match of the funding.

The letter from the transit agencies said they need the aid to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and would supplement the $25 billion in emergency aid Congress approved for public transportation in March.

The letter said since that aide was approved, “a fuller picture has emerged of  . . . losses from dedicated transportation revenue streams, such as farebox, sales taxes, motor fuel taxes, tolls, mortgage-related taxes and other user fees.”

The letter said the usual funding sources for public transportation have taken “a massive hit.”

The transit heads said their systems will not be able to support the regions they serve without replenishing those losses.

“Our regions cannot recover without public transportation, and the nation cannot recover without resurgent economies in our regions,” the letter said.

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