President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
On behalf of America’s public transportation industry, which directly employs more than 435,000 workers and supports millions of private-sector jobs, we urge you to provide an additional $23.8 billion in COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Funding to help public transit agencies continue to provide a critical lifeline to essential workers and to help our communities rebuild our economy. These funds will offset the extraordinary direct costs and revenue losses caused by the pandemic.
We greatly appreciate your work to enact the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136). CARES Act funding provided a critical lifeline to enable our agencies to serve first responders, hospital workers, and grocery store clerks each and every day. Yet, public transit agencies need additional funding to continue to provide these and other essential services throughout the crisis and play its indispensable role in America’s social and economic recovery from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased public transit operating costs and slashed state and local sources of transit funding, including agency farebox, parking, and other revenue; dedicated sales tax, gas tax, and other state and local tax revenues; and state and local funding. For instance, with stay-at-home orders and fare-free services for essential riders, transit fare revenue has dropped 86 percent over the past month. Further, we currently estimate that 37,000 construction jobs in 2020 and 34,000 in 2021 will be lost because of transit project delays and cancellations.
Based on the enclosed, independent analysis¹ of COVID-19 impacts on public transit, APTA estimates that public transit agencies face $23.8 billion of additional costs and revenue losses through calendar year 2021, in excess of public transit funding provided by the CARES Act. As our nation’s transit agencies work to maintain and restore essential services, federal support is critical to ensure that public transit agencies can reposition themselves to survive and help our communities and nation recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
To that end, APTA urges Congress to provide $23.8 billion in COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Funding for public transportation, including:
- $19 billion provided through the Emergency Relief Program; and
- $4.75 billion provided through Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Grants; and Rural Area Formula Grants.
APTA proposes that 80 percent of the $23.8 billion in funding ($19 billion) be allocated through the existing Emergency Relief Program (49 U.S.C. 5324), with the Secretary of Transportation providing grants to public transportation agencies for COVID-19 costs and revenue losses that exceed funding provided to such agencies under the CARES Act. These funds would be distributed proportionally to all public transit agencies with demonstrated need. The funds would be available for both capital and operating expenses and at a 100 percent federal share, as provided under the CARES Act.
The remaining 20 percent of funds ($4.75 billion) would be allocated by formula through the Urbanized Area Formula Grants (49 U.S.C. § 5307), Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Grants (49 U.S.C. § 5310), and Rural Area Formula Grants (49 U.S.C. § 5311), in the same ratio as funds were provided in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94). The funds would be available for both capital and operating expenses and at a 100 percent federal share. For additional information regarding the proposal, please see the enclosed APTA Fact Sheet regarding COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Funding for Public Transportation (Attachment A).
These additional emergency funds are critical to ensuring that public transportation can continue to be a lifeline for our essential workers and help our communities rebuild their economies in the wake of the pandemic. These funds are also critical to maintain the manufacturing and supply chain for public transportation agencies and limit the enormous economic damage to these businesses caused by the pandemic.
Finally, APTA believes that providing the public transportation industry with long-term certainty is critical to our economic recovery and we urge you to enact the Surface Transportation Authorization Act prior to its expiration in September. Now is the time to invest more in our nation’s public transportation infrastructure to support jobs, reconnect Americans, and build the necessary infrastructure network to provide critical public transit services and economic opportunities for all.
We greatly appreciate all of your efforts to help Americans through this national crisis. This Emergency Response and Recovery Funding for public transportation is critically important as we work to maintain a lifeline and restore these essential services in each of our communities.
Thank you for your consideration.
Paul P. Skoutelas
President and CEO
cc: The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Transportation
The Honorable K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration
The Honorable Ronald Batory, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration