The CARES Act that was approved by Congress has helped transit agencies regroup from big ridership losses suffered during opening months of the coronavirus pandemic. The HEROES Act, a second shot of federal stimulus money, which was passed by the House but has yet to be taken on by the Senate, would not provide additional funding for mid-sized transit agencies.
The CARES Act was an encouraging first step, as it included $25 billion for transit agencies. The HEROES Act would provide over $15 billion for transit, but almost $12 billion will be reserved for regions that have at least 3 million in population. That leaves the mid-sized transit agencies, like Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, to fight over $4 billion in application-based grant program money.
Furthermore, transit agencies could have a 12-month shortfall of $9.2 billion, according to data from TransitCenter. The shortfall number accounts for both CARES and HEROES Act funding.
“This suggests that filling the annual shortfalls of all transit agencies likely requires $10 billion in addition to the $11.75 billion in formula funds provided in the HEROES Act,” said TransitCenter.
TransitCenter also noted that most of the mid-sized transit agencies would fall into a “donut hole” because they would receive no additional funding under the HEROES Act. Even though the HEROES Act would “significantly reduce” anticipated shortfalls in the 10 largest transit regions, it would still address less than a year’s worth of the expected deficit in New York and Seattle, and possibly Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Boston, according to the TransitCenter model.