CTAA letter urges Congress to include public transit in COVID-19 relief

Posted on March 20, 2020

The CTAA wrote the letter on behalf of several transit industries, including rural transit, paratransit, and NEMT providers. McDonald Transit

On Thursday, CTAA Executive Director Scott Bogren wrote a letter to Congress to request funding for various transit providers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter is below.

I write to you all as senior Congressional Appropriators on behalf of the Community Transportation Association of America’s nearly 1,400 members. As you can well imagine, CTAA’s rural, small city, specialized, and NEMT operators — who collectively serve millions of Americans every day — are experiencing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you begin taking up Phase 3 of Coronavirus Relief Legislation, CTAA and its members ask that you consider the following emergency supplemental appropriations as well as a number of critical regulatory clarifications and deadline extensions. These funds and regulatory clarifications will allow CTAA members to (1) recover quickly from massive losses of farebox and contract revenues; (2) afford ongoing cleaning/protection equipment needs and staffing; (3) maintain the economic and physical health of vital front-line employees; and, (4) shift many of their services to life-sustaining dialysis, chemotherapy and other non-emergency medical trips that must continue to occur and adding a significant increase in home-delivered meals, care and prescriptions trips.

For rural and tribal public transit operations funded through Section 5311, we request a $300 million emergency supplemental appropriation to replace lost farebox and contract revenues, lost payroll for vital rural transit front-line employees, and direct cleaning and equipment expenses dealing with the pandemic.

For small-urban transit systems funded through Section 5307 (those providing service in areas of between 50,000 and 200,000 population) we request a $500 million emergency supplemental appropriation to replace lost farebox and contract revenues, lost payroll for vital rural transit frontline employees, and direct cleaning and equipment expenses dealing with the pandemic.

For specialized transit services for older adults and people with disabilities and funded through Section 5310, as well as non-emergency medical transportation services, services for veterans, and other specialized transit operations, we request an emergency supplemental appropriation of approximately $150 million to augment currently appropriated Section 5310 funding in FY 2020, with the specific provision that these supplemental funds be used to cover service contracts and operating assistance, and are not intended for the acquisition of buses, vans, or other rolling stock.

All of these figures are based on data collected from CTAA members as well as discussions with nearly 600 members in a series of Town Hall webinars conducted on March 18, 2020. Our calculations run through the end of the current fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2020).

CTAA is actively collaborating with our partners at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to convey a number of temporary regulatory relief and clarifications that many of our members have identified as vital to their response to COVID-19. I am happy to share a full list of these requests. Because so many of our members’ transit programs are state-managed, we also have consulted with our state DOT members in developing this request and in our efforts at regulatory relief.

CTAA members, all across the nation, have long provided cost-effective and efficient community and public transportation to some of the most difficult to serve areas of the country, providing trips for at-risk passenger populations to life-sustaining non-emergency medical appointments. Our rural, tribal, and NEMT members’ transportation services have long allowed older adults and people with disabilities to remain safely in their homes. Our small-urban members provide high volumes of fixed-route transit that dramatically reduces congestion and pollution while increasing mobility in their cities. We will need these systems throughout the current crisis in myriad ways, as well as each to quickly revive full service when the pandemic subsides. Thank you for considering this request in Phase 3 of Coronavirus Response Legislation and I am happy to answer any questions at bogren@ctaa.org or 202.247.1921.

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