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Transportation Response Center: Emergency Federal Assistance & Stimulus Funding

April 6th 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)