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7/15/2020



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Transit execs urge Congress to pass $36B in emergency relief funding


MTA New York City Transit’s Coney Island Terminal closed on the first night of a program to shutdown the subway system from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day to clean and disinfect the rail cars.
Photo – Marc A. Hermann/MTA NYCT

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A coalition of the nation's largest transit agencies yesterday requested $36 billion in emergency federal funding as part of a new COVID-19 pandemic relief bill.

In a virtual press conference and "rally" held yesterday, public transportation industry leaders said that the $25 billion agencies received under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March is running out and more funding will be necessary to help them continue providing passenger-rail and other transit services.

In a letter sent to U.S. Senate leaders, the transit executives urged Congress to deliver up to $36 billion in federal aid as senators return from recess to Washington, D.C., next week. The Democratic-led House has passed the so-called HEROES Act, which includes $15.7 billion for public transportation. However, Senate Republicans have rejected that bill and are divided on how much to spend on additional virus relief funds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fiscal crisis for public transportation, the agency leaders said yesterday. For example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City is facing an unprecedented financial catastrophe amid precipitous declines in fare revenue and local, state and regional taxes that support the agency's operations. MTA, which operates New York City Transit subways and commuter-rail service in the region, has been losing $700 million to $800 million a month versus its budget.

With MTA's federal CARES funding set to run out in days, the agency has requested an additional $3.9 billion in emergency aid to get through the rest of this year.

"We all need Congress to act now and to act decisively so our systems can survive and support the nation's economic recovery," said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Foye in a press release. "That's why we are asking — insisting — that the Senate set aside $32 billion to $36 billion for transit in the next COVID-19 emergency relief bill to offset the economic harm done by this crisis to our industry."

Other transit agencies represented at yesterday's press conference included Bay Area Rapid Transit, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Sound Transit, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority and New Jersey Transit.

A video of yesterday's virtual event is available here.

 

 



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