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Support Critical Public Transportation Funding in Emergency Aid Package

As government leaders respond to the widespread transmission of COVID-19, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) has laid out a broad agenda urging lawmakers to address the immediate and long-term health and economic effects caused by COVID-19 on our transportation workforce – one of the largest job sectors in the country. TTD is focused on all modes of the transportation industry, and will be reaching out in the coming hours and days to share our individual priorities.

Specific to public transportation assistance in an emergency aid package, we urge you to support desperately needed supplemental funding that will keep our transit systems safe and operational in the months to come. Across the country, frontline public transportation employees are going to extraordinary measures to protect the health and safety of their riders, while continuing to ensure that the public’s access to jobs, food, and other critical services isn’t brought to a halt.

At the same time, the significant costs associated with cleaning alongside reduced farebox revenue are exacting a serious and damaging toll on the industry, which will be felt by frontline workers and passengers alike. To guarantee continued operations and minimal disruption to employment in the industry, TTD echoes the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) call for $12.875 billion to public transit in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. TTD and our affiliated unions propose that those funds be dispersed to transit agencies in the following way:

Formula Funding Plus Up

Due to the massive public health concerns around the coronavirus, the Federal government should provide immediately available funds for operations at transit agencies. These funds should:

  • Go through existing formula fund channels (49 USC 5307, 5311, and 5340)
  • Be targeted to operating expenses and coronavirus transmission prevention measures only
  • Waive all state and local match requirements, as allowed by 49 USC 5324
  • Prevent waivers of existing labor protections under 49 USC 5333

Temporary Emergency Grant Program

In the medium term, some transit agencies may be disproportionately affected. Appropriators should provide separate funding under a new, temporary program for FTA to distribute federal aid to agencies that demonstrate disproportionately larger revenue loss than other agencies. This program should:

  • Be directed to transit agencies that have seen at least a 15% drop in ridership during the public health crisis
  • Have 80% of available funds dedicated to agencies eligible for formula funding under 49 USC 5307
  • Be strictly limited to reimbursing operating costs and lost revenue incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Carry the same federal requirements as funds that go through existing formula channels (49 USC 5307, 5311, and 5340)

Again, as this difficult situation continues to unfold, we expect to be in touch about a number of other key transportation priorities. We also urge you to check in regularly at https://ttd.org/category/policy/letters-to-congress/.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to Matthew Colvin (matthewc@ttd.org) at TTD if you have any questions.

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