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Transportation Response Center: Emergency Federal Assistance & Stimulus Funding

Strong federal support will be essential for providing essential services, including transit, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath. As Congress considers federal aid packages, NACTO encourages cities and transit agencies to regularly reach out to their elected officials to ensure stimulus funds distribute adequate resources to local agencies.

October 2, 2020 Update

In late September, the House updated the HEROES Act to include $32 billion in additional emergency funding for transit. If passed, this bill would require the FTA to distribute $18.5 billion to transit agencies through the Urbanized Area Formula Funding program and cover up to 100% of FY2018 operating costs. Another $10 billion would be distributed through the Emergency Relief Program. Of the remaining funds, $750 million would go towards Rural Area Formula Grants, $250 million to Enhanced Mobility (paratransit) grants, and $2.5 billion to Capital Investment Grant program recipients. The updated relief package passed the House on October 1.

Read Mass Transit Magazine’s coverage of the revised HEROES Act here.

Read NACTO’s letter thanking House leaders for meeting transit advocates’ request for an additional $32 billion in emergency aid.

Click here to contact your Senators and urge them to support the House’s proposal to invest no less than $32 billion to save transit.

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July 31, 2020 Update

NACTO sent a letter to US Senate leaders requesting additional federal aid for transit agencies, on behalf of our transit partners. Signed by dozens of agency leaders from American member cities, the letter urged Congress to provide financial support for transit agency partners through FY20 and FY21, with at least $32 billion in additional emergency aid.
Read the full letter >>

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April 6, 2020 Update

On March 26, 2020, Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill provides a total of $114 billion in federal aid to the transportation sector, with the majority of these funds going to the aviation industry. The bill provides $25 billion in emergency aid to transit agencies, of which $13.8 billion is for agencies in urban areas with another $7.5 billion specifically for legacy systems.

The bill also created a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide assistance to state and local governments. State, local, and tribal governments can apply for aid from this fund to cover expenditures directly related to COVID-19, as long as they were not accounted for in that government’s budget and are incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020. Local governments are eligible to receive direct payments, in amounts proportional to their population.

State and local governments can apply for additional aid from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which received $45 billion from Congress in this legislation. The Fund will provide reimbursements to state and local governments under emergency and major disaster declarations. The CARES Act also allocated $17.4 billion in new funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Community Development Block Grants, Homeless Assistance Grants, and tenant-based rental assistance.

Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement Under CARES

The Federal Transit Administration received $25 billion in appropriations, to be apportioned using the fiscal year 2020 apportionment formulas for public transportation grants. Grantees can use the funds to cover operating costs at a 100% federal share. Expenses eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Administrative leave for employees due to Covid-19.
  • Drivers’ salaries, supplies, personal protective equipment, fuel and other daily operating and maintenance expenses.
  • Any operating, capital, or paratransit expenses or charter services directly responding to the pandemic.

There is no cap on CARES Funds, and no waiver requirements. The requirements of Chapter 53 of Title 49 of the U.S. Code (related to public transportation), including labor standards requirements, will apply to these grants. For more information, please see FTA’s CARES Act website.

Read NACTO’s letter to Congress on federal support for city transportation
Read more on Transportation for America
See Eno Center brief on funding


Other Resources

CARES Act Overview for the Public Transportation Industry (FTA)
Guidance on FEMA and other federal assistance (US Conference of Mayors)
NACTO Policy Program (NACTO)
Federal Support for Transit Letter (NACTO)