Congress is actively working on a third package of COVID-19 response legislation and an emergency aid package could pass in the coming days. Public transportation organizations are taking extraordinary efforts to protect the health and safety of riders and employees while working tirelessly to maintain essential services. We want to ensure that the federal government includes aid to public transportation agencies to help offset the additional costs and lost revenue related to COVID-19.

APTA requests $12.875 billion for public transit to offset direct costs and revenue losses of COVID-19 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. These funds are necessary to maintain essential services, including providing public transportation to health care workers, Medicaid recipients who receive non-emergency medical transportation, and law enforcement personnel. Without these emergency funds, public transit agencies may be required to suspend services.

The APTA request of $12.875 billion will offset the following costs and losses:

  • Direct Costs: $1.75 billion. Based on preliminary results of the APTA survey, 98 percent of public transit agencies have increased direct costs because of COVID-19 (e.g., cleaning vehicles and facilities);
  • Farebox Revenue Loss: $6.0 billion. We anticipate a 75 percent loss of farebox revenue over the remaining six months of FY 2020 (total annual revenue: $16.1 billion);
  • Dedicated Sales Tax Revenue Loss: $4.875 billion. We anticipate a 75 percent loss of dedicated sales tax revenue over next six months (total annual revenue: $13 billion); and
  • Restart Costs: $250 million.


We strongly encourage you to contact your Members of Congress today and share the impacts, such as ridership losses and increased costs due to labor and cleaning products, of COVID-19 on public transportation in your communities.

To contact your Members of Congress, please call 202.224.3121.


Other Key Actions

There are several other key actions that APTA members can take to help us make the case for public transit funding to offset the enormous costs of COVID-19.

First, on March 12, APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas sent a survey to public transit agency CEOs urgently seeking assistance in assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on the public transportation industry. For any transit agencies that have not yet completed the survey, or have updated information, please complete this survey as quickly as possible, but no later than close of business today (Tuesday, March 17).

Second, if your agency has anecdotal information to share with APTA, please contact TJ Doyle, APTA’s Director of Advocacy Communications at

Third, please visit APTA’s COVID-19 Resource page for additional information on the public transit industry’s response to COVID-19 and information from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), a community forum, and more. To visit APTA’s COVID-19 Resource page, please click here.

Congress Passes COVID-19 Legislation

On March 6, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123), as a first measure to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Act provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for certain federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. For text of the public law, please click here.

On March 14, the House passed a second measure H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill provides additional emergency funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and HHS. The bill includes provisions relating to paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, and expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits. Yesterday, the House passed technical corrections to the bill. The Senate is expected to take up the measure this week. The President is expected to sign the bill. For text of the bill, please click here.

FTA and FRA Announce Emergency Relief Flexibility For COVID-19

On Friday, March 13, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced, that under its Emergency Relief Program, funds will be made available to provide assistance to transit agencies for expenses related to COVID-19 if the Governor in the state has declared a state of emergency. Transit agencies are allowed to use federal formula funds for emergency-related capital and operating expenses and permits operating expenses to be covered at 80 percent federal share. FTA is also allowing transit agencies to request temporary relief from federal requirements if the Governor has declared a state of emergency. To view a frequently asked questions document issued by the FTA, please click here.

Finally, on March 14, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that its Emergency Relief provisions are in effect, which permits railroads to request expedited consideration of waiver requests as a result of COVID-19.

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