U.S. Department of Transportation announces $30.5 billion for nation’s public transportation systems

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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DOT awards grants to TriMet and King County Metro for COVID-19 response.
U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced a total of $30.5 billion in Federal funding.

The $30.5 billion in funding is now available to support the nation’s public transportation systems as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and support President Biden’s call to vaccinate the U.S. population. Funding is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Pub. L. 117-2), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021.

“Transportation workers are serving on the front lines of this pandemic: delivering the vaccine, getting people to essential jobs, and providing goods and services to people who need them,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The critical American Rescue Plan funding we are announcing today will help prevent service cuts, protect employees from layoffs, keep riders and workers safe, and strengthen our economy.”
The American Rescue Plan Act includes $30.5 billion for public transportation, including $26.6 billion to be allocated by statutory formulas to urban and rural areas, tribal governments, and for the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities, and $2.2 billion to FTA grant recipients in communities that demonstrate additional pandemic-associated needs. Funds will be made available at 100-percent federal share and primarily directed to operations and payroll. An additional $1.7 billion is provided for projects in the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and another $25 million for competitive planning grants.

“This is an important moment in our nation’s pandemic response,” said FTA Acting Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “The American Rescue Plan Act contains funding to help speed up vaccine distribution and provide relief to transit agencies so they can continue to provide service to the many Americans who depend on transit to get to essential jobs, healthcare and vaccine appointments.”

Formula funding under the American Rescue Plan Act will be made available this week, and eligible funding recipients can begin developing and submitting their grant applications to the Department immediately. Competitive funds will be made available through Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) published in the Federal Register and grants will be awarded following a competitive review and project selection process based on criteria outlined in the NOFOs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation continues to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other Federal partners to provide guidance to the public transportation industry in response to COVID-19 and move swiftly to make sure that transit agencies can access these much needed funds. FTA has held regular conference calls and listening sessions with transit stakeholders and posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on its website to provide guidance on $25 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and $14 billion in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funding.

FTA will host a webinar about the American Rescue Plan Act funding on Friday, April 2, at 2 p.m. to provide additional guidance to transit stakeholders. More information about the webinar and additional resources are available on FTA’s website.

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