Trump Administration Awards $25 Billion in Emergency Transit Funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A security guard stands by escalators in a sparsely populated transit hub in the downtown financial district as retail stores remain shuttered due to COVID-19 concerns, Saturday, March 21, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Trump administration on Thursday said it was allocating $25 billion in emergency funding grants to public transportation systems to address a massive falloff in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds, including $5.4 billion for the New York City area, were approved by Congress last week and transit systems should start receiving payments in the coming weeks.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the “historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who depend on them.”

The funds include $1.2 billion for the Los Angeles area, $1.02 billion for the Washington, D.C. area, $883 million for the Boston-area, $879 million for the Philadelphia area, $820 million for the San Francisco area and $520 million for Seattle.

Many of the areas cover systems that are also in nearby states and were awarded under a population-based formula.

Last month, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees two commuter railroads, subways and buses, sought $4 billion as ridership had fallen more than 60% on the subways.

New Jersey Transit this week sought a $1.25 billion bailout after reporting a nearly 90% drop-off in ridership. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District also appealed for emergency funds after ridership declined by 90%.

The FTA said $22.7 billion was allocated to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion to rural areas. The funds will “support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.

The FTA announcement came one day ahead of the required timetable from Congress.