On February 27, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1319, the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021”. The bill provides $30.5 billion in critical COVID-19 emergency funding to help public transit agencies continue to provide a lifeline to essential workers, ensure Americans can get to vaccine distribution sites, and advance communities’ efforts across the country to rebuild our nation’s economy.
The Senate is expected to consider the bill this week, likely beginning tomorrow. During consideration of the bill, the Senate is expected to consider amendments, including possible amendments to cut or eliminate the public transit emergency funding. APTA has sent letters to every member of the Senate urging them to support the bill. Please click here to view the letter.
We strongly encourage you to contact your Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and provide $30.5 billion of emergency funding for public transit. We also urge Senators to oppose any amendments to cut or eliminate the transit funding. Please click here to download a template letter to send to your U.S. Senators.
CALL TO ACTION
Please contact your Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, and provide $30.5 billion of emergency funding for public transit. We also urge Senators to oppose any amendments to cut or eliminate the transit funding.
Please click here to view APTA’s Talking Points.
To contact your Senators, please call 202.224.3121.
Join Us Today for #SaveTransit Day
APTA is joining with like-minded transit advocacy organizations today (March 2) for #SaveTransit Day, a digital day of action to show support for public transit funding in the American Rescue Plan Act.
We encourage all APTA members to participate in this important online initiative. It is easy to get involved. For more information, please visit this toolkit of useful resources, including sample social media posts and images.
H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
H.R. 1319, as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, provides $30.5 billion of emergency public transit funding and $1.5 billion of emergency Amtrak funding.
A primary objective of the $30.5 billion of emergency transit funding is to ensure that public transit agencies receive sufficient funding under this bill, when combined with their prior COVID-19 transit allocations pursuant to the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), to equal 132 percent of urbanized areas’ public transit operating costs
The transit funds provided under the bill are available for operating expenses related to the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Except for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) funds, these emergency funds shall be directed to payroll and operations of public transportation (including payroll and expenses of private providers of public transportation) unless the recipient certifies to the Secretary that the recipient has not furloughed any employees. The federal share is 100 percent.
The bill distributes the overwhelming majority of the emergency transit funds through several formula programs:
The bill also provides $2.21 billion for operating assistance grants to eligible recipients or subrecipients that, because of COVID-19, require additional assistance for costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, and debt service payments incurred to maintain operations and avoid layoffs and furloughs. Applicants must provide estimates of financial need; data on reductions in farebox or other local revenue; a spending plan for such funds; and demonstration of expenditure of more than 90 percent of COVID-19 funds available to the applicant in fiscal year (FY) 2020 (i.e., the CARES Act). The Federal Transit Administration shall evaluate grant requests based on the level of financial need demonstrated. The demonstrated need includes future financial need to maintain service as a percentage of 2018 operating costs that has not been replaced by the funds made available by the other grants of H.R. 1319 or prior COVID-19 legislation (i.e., the CARES Act and CRRSAA).
H.R. 1319 provides $1.675 billion for Capital Investment Grants under 49 U.S.C. § 5309. In particular, the bill provides $1.425 billion for specific New Start and Core Capacity projects. It provides $1.25 billion to CIG project sponsors that have an existing Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) (i.e., New Start or Core Capacity projects) or are currently in the Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program and received a FY 2019 or FY 2020 CIG allocation. It distributes the funds proportionally based on the non-federal share to qualified project sponsors. Separately, the bill provides $175 million to CIG project sponsors that have an existing FFGA that received a CIG allocation prior to FY 2019. However, no project may receive more than 40 percent of the additional allocation of $175 million (i.e., $70 million). If a project exceeds the 40 percent threshold, the excess funds are distributed proportionally based on the non-federal share to qualified project sponsors that did not exceed the threshold. Projects with grant agreements that are open for revenue service are not eligible for these CIG funds. Further, these emergency funds will not be counted toward the maximum federal financial assistance of the projects. Based on APTA’s analysis, there are 24 projects that will receive funding under this provision. Please click here for APTA’s List of CIG Projects Eligible for Funding under H.R. 1319, American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
In addition, the bill provides $250 million for Small Start projects that are a recipient of a CIG allocation or an applicant in the project development phase. The funds will not be counted toward the maximum federal financial assistance of the projects.
Finally, H.R. 1319 provides $100 million for grants to bus operators that partner with recipients or subrecipients under 49 U.S.C. § 5311(f), and $25 million for planning grants under 49 U.S.C. § 5307 regarding planning to restore service.
The bill provides several additional conditions for the transit funding:
H.R. 1319 provides $1.5 billion for Amtrak grants to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, including:
The bill sets aside $285 million to be available to Amtrak in lieu of commuter rail and State-supported route payments. In addition, the bill sets aside $166 million for Amtrak to restore service on long-distance routes and to recall and manage furloughed employees.
APTA Sends Coalition Letter to CDC Director Requesting Public Transit Meeting
On March 1, APTA, together with several Coalition partners, sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ms. Rochelle P. Walensky, requesting a meeting to discuss the importance of the CDC issuing guidance making it clear that public transit is an extremely safe, low-risk mode of travel. Please click here to view the Coalition letter.