WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 30, 2021) – Today, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the hearing “Assessing the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Relief and Response Efforts and its Impact—Part II”. In his testimony, Skoutelas discussed the essential role that public transit played during the pandemic, and how public transit agencies have used federal COVID-19 emergency funding during the ongoing crisis.
Highlights of his testimony are below; his full written testimony can be found here.
“Public transportation has always been an essential service for American families. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of every American, transit once again served as an essential lifeline. Through it all, healthcare and other essential workers continued to rely on transit to get to their critical jobs. Most significantly, transit workers served as heroes on the front lines. The public transit industry directly employs 450,000 workers, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the significant toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on transit agencies’ frontline employees—545 transit workers have been lost to COVID.”
“We thank Congress for recognizing transit’s essential role by passing emergency legislation to provide significant support for transit operating costs that was essential for the very survival of many agencies. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) each provided critical support for public transportation. COVID relief funds helped stabilize agency budgets, which allowed them to continue their capital and construction programs, maintain jobs, and help the economy recover.”
“Transit agencies are investing these emergency funds in services that are absolutely vital in their communities. To date, public transit agencies have obligated 98 percent of CARES Act funding. Transit agencies have also obligated more than one-half of CRRSAA funds and one-quarter of ARP funds. There should be no doubt that COVID-19 emergency funding was critical to the survival of transit service during the pandemic.”
“As the nation emerges from the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, transit is poised to be a key driver of building a 21st century transportation system that will support economic recovery, address equity and climate change, and increase our global competitiveness. Transit ridership continues to climb. Six months ago, national transit ridership was 41 percent; three months ago, it had risen to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Today, transit ridership is almost two-thirds (63 percent) of 2019 levels. Increasing transit ridership is expected to continue as Americans return to offices and become more comfortable resuming normal activities.”
Also included in Skoutelas’ testimony was data from an APTA Policy Brief, COVID-19 Emergency Funding Critical to Public Transit’s Survival. To access the Policy Brief, please click here.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public- and private-sector organizations which represent a $80 billion industry that directly employs 448,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.