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American Public Transportation Association (APTA) leaders are expressing concern that the latest COVID-19 pandemic relief funding package under consideration in Congress does not include additional emergency funding for public transportation.
Senate Republicans, after negotiations with the White House, on Monday unveiled a series of bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that includes funding for certain transportation priorities. However, the $1 trillion relief plan includes no additional emergency funding to help transit agencies address their financial distress caused by continuing pandemic-related losses in fare and tax revenue and increases in costs.
The series of bills "ignores the dire situation facing the public transportation industry and the vital role that transit has played during the pandemic," APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas said in a prepared statement.
Skoutelas and leaders of the largest U.S. transit agencies are urging Congress to provide at least $32 billion of additional COVID-19 emergency funding so that transit agencies can continue providing "essential services" during the pandemic and then play an "indispensable role" in the nation's economic recovery from COVID-19, they said.
"Ignoring the essential role public transit has played during these past four months harms communities and the essential employees keeping this country moving during a pandemic," Skoutelas said.
According to APTA, nearly a third of transit agencies have furloughed employees or plan to implement furloughs to deal with strained agency budgets. More than a third have delayed capital projects, and nearly one in five agencies have shifted funds from capital budgets to operating budgets.
Transit agencies received $25 billion earlier this year under the federal stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act. That funding helped address immediate needs under the early phases of the public health crisis, industry leaders have said.