Keep It Moving: Federal Grant Helps County Transit With COVID-19 Costs

Thanks to a multimillion dollar grant from U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, Suffolk County's buses will keep rolling. KITTY MERRILL

The buses will keep rolling. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has given a $26.6 million grant award to Suffolk County Transit.

Funding awarded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will be used to support the continued operation of bus and paratransit services during the pandemic. The county’s award is part of a multi-billion dollar funding bill through the CARES Act.

“This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who continue to depend on them,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a release announcing the award.

“We know many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges and these funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

“We greatly appreciate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s support during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said. “The funds will help to offset revenue losses and expenses tied to keeping passengers and bus drivers safe with measures like moving boarding to the rear, cashless fare payment, and disinfecting. This financial support is critical as we begin re-opening and recovery.”

CARES funding can be used to cover 100 percent of the cost of developing and implementing policies and procedures regarding face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, physical separation, and hand hygiene consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance.

Speaking at a webinar for public transit stakeholders in April, Ms. Williams explained the CARES Act funding will be provided at a 100 percent federal share with no local match required. And it will be available to support operating expenses including administrative leave to pay frontline workers and capital expenses eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law. It provided more than $2 trillion for industries that have been impacted by COVID-19, including the transit industry.