Transit asking for big money in next federal stimulus bill … but when will it happen?

Written by RT&S Staff

On the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the Democrats’ next federal stimulus bill, called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, leaders in the transit industry were calling for more help.

Five transit officials are asking federal lawmakers to make sure to include at least $33 billion for public transportation in the next federal stimulus bill. New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) CEO Pat Foye, NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) General Manager Bob Powers, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Manager Leslie Richards and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) CEO Jeffrey Parker made the financial plea during a conference call on May 12.

Foye said the federal government must recognize the ongoing emergency and the vital role of transit infrastructures as economic drivers, but also as agencies that transport first responders and essential workers during the pandemic. The MTA CEO added that the COVID-19 pandemic is a national disaster, one that requires a continued national response.

The MTA wants $3.9 billion in additional stimulus money, which should help the agency through 2020. Foye estimates MTA will need $10.4 billion to cover projected deficits over the next two years. New York City subway ridership has dropped 92 percent since March, while the Long Island Rail Road has experience a 97 percent decline.

NJ Transit is calling for about the same amount of funding requested by the MTA, while BART is looking at a $600 million deficit.

Details of the House bill did not include any money for transit, but that does not mean the mode of transportation will not be taken care of in the coming weeks or months. The Republican-controlled Senate would like to see how the latest federal stimulus bill, the CARES Act, performs, and may not be ready to act on another spending measure until later in the summer.

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