On March 29, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced $30.5 billion in federal funding to support the nation’s public transportation systems as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will also be used to support federal efforts to fully administer the COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. population. Funding is provided through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Click here to view NACo’s analysis of the ARP.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on transit operations, the majority of which take place at the local or regional level. Transit agencies have experienced a drastic decrease in ridership rates, resulting in a significant drop in revenues. As a result, transit agencies are facing major challenges in providing and maintaining essential transportation services for those who rely on them.
ARP includes $30.5 billion for public transportation, including $26.6 billion to be allocated by statutory formulas to urban and rural areas, tribal governments and for the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities, and $2.2 billion to FTA grant recipients in communities that demonstrate additional pandemic-associated needs. Funds will be made available at 100-percent federal share and are primarily directed to operations and payroll costs. An additional $1.7 billion is provided for projects in the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and another $25 million for competitive planning grants.
Counties play an important role in our nation’s transportation and infrastructure networks, owning more roads and bridges than any other entity, while also directly supporting both public transit systems and public airports. As the 117th Congress and the administration work toward recovery efforts, counties believe that further federal investments in local transportation systems and county infrastructure will be an important tool in restoring the national economy.