On September 7, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $2.2 billion in competitive grant funding for transit systems that can demonstrate a need for additional assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Additional Assistance Funding, which is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), can be used to cover a wide variety of operating expenses related to maintaining day-to-day operations, cleaning and sanitization, preventing the spread of viruses and maintaining critical staffing levels. The funding announcement is significant for counties, who support 78 percent of all public transit agencies, including buses, trains, light rail and subway systems.
Public transit agencies across the country are facing significant funding shortfalls as a result of the pandemic. Transit ridership nationally is currently 68 percent of what it was prior to the pandemic, according to data from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and many transit agencies are still struggling to make up the difference in fare box revenue.
The $2.2 billion in funding recently announced by FTA will help those transit agencies most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as applications will be reviewed based on the level of financial need. Further, Additional Assistance Funding cannot be used to cover expenses that are already paid for through funding made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 or other ARPA funding.
Applications for the program are due by November 8, 2021 and the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) is available for review here. Eligible applicants include recipients of Urbanized Area Formula funds and Rural Area Formula funds. FTA plans to host a webinar on the program on September 23, 2021 at 3pm Eastern and registration information will be available here.