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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) yesterday announced it "strongly opposes" the inclusion of restrictive project eligibility criteria in the federal grant opportunity for COVID-19 research grants to public transit agencies.
On Oct. 8, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) to provide federal funding for COVID-19 research demonstration grants. The NOFO states that the FTA will review and consider applications in accordance with President Donald Trump's Sept. 2, 2020, memorandum that directed the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Management and Budget to review federal funding to state and local government recipients that are permitting "anarchy, violence and destruction."
The Trump administration has determined that New York City, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, are "anarchist" jurisdictions. APTA is concerned that, based on the federal criterion, the FTA will restrict the eligibility of, or disfavor applications for, COVID-19 research demonstration grants if applicants are located in those cities, APTA officials said.
Just as public transit agencies provide equal access to all residents, federal grants should be available to all transit agencies, said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas in a press release.
"These funds are critical for transit systems as they undertake extraordinary efforts to safeguard riders and employees, while facing unprecedented budgetary woes," Skoutelas said. "It is inappropriate and unjustified that criteria would be considered to prohibit certain public transit systems from receiving critical funds to support their efforts to respond to COVID-19."
APTA also released a fact sheet on the presidential memo and NOFO.