Senate Approves American Rescue Plan, $30.5B in Transit Relief

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The U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March 6, providing $30.5 billion in COVID-19 emergency relief funding to the public transit industry and $1.7 billion for Amtrak.

The amended bill, H.R. 1319, was previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of February, and includes $500 million more for transit and $200 million more for Amtrak than what the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Budget Reconciliation Title proposed early last month.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said that the legislation is critical to helping public transit agencies during the pandemic and beyond.

“We greatly appreciate that the bill includes $30.5 billion of emergency transit funding and distributes these funds in a manner that ensures that all public transit agencies can continue to be a lifeline for our essential workers, while also ensuring Americans can get to vaccine distribution sites and communities can rebuild from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic,” said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The time is now to invest more in our nation’s public transportation infrastructure to support jobs, reconnect Americans, and build the necessary infrastructure network to provide critical public transit services and economic opportunities for all.”

The following is a breakdown of what the bill now includes for transit and Amtrak. (The funds are available through fiscal year 2024.)

Public Transit

  • $26.09 billion for urbanized area formula grants.
  • $317 million for rural area formula grants.
  • $50 million in formula grants for seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • $1.675 billion for qualifying projects in the Capital Investment Grants program. (Based on APTA’s analysis, there are 23 projects that will receive funding under this provision.)


  • $970 million for Northeast Corridor grants.
  • $730 million for National Network grants.
  • $285 million in lieu of commuter rail and state-supported route payments.
  • $166 million to restore service on long-distance routes and to recall and manage furloughed employees.

The House is expected to vote on the American Rescue Plan this week. If passed without further changes, it will be sent to President Biden, who is expected to sign the legislation.