Biden’s emergency COVID-19 response plan includes $20B for public transit

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President-Elect Joe Biden’s emergency COVID-19 response plan will include $20 billion for hard-hit public transit agencies.

The plan, called the American Rescue Plan, released Thursday, would invest an estimated $1.9 trillion in relief measures designed to help families, businesses, and industries come out of the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.

“President-elect Biden is laying out the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan for rescue, from the depths of this crisis, and recovery, by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis, advancing racial equity, and building back better than before,” the plan said. “As last month’s jobs report underscored, the virus and our economy are intertwined. We cannot rescue our economy without containing this virus.”

The plan calls for $20 billion in relief for the public transit agencies hit hardest by the pandemic.

“This relief will keep agencies from laying off transit workers and cutting the routes that essential workers rely on every day while making these transit systems more resilient and ensuring that communities of color maintain the access to opportunity that public transportation provides,” the plan said.

After months of begging Congress for help, transit organizations said they approved of the plan.

“The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), on behalf of the entire public transportation industry, applauds the incoming Biden administration for recognizing the critical needs of our industry. The proposed emergency transit funding included in the American Rescue Plan is vital to the industry’s survival and will help prevent massive labor cuts and drastic service reductions,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation has served an essential role during this pandemic and is an indispensable part of the social and economic recovery of our communities and our country. Despite the tremendous challenges the public transit industry faces, we continue to provide millions of Americans the ability to get to work, school, grocery stores, and healthcare appointments. Investment in public transit is a bipartisan issue, and APTA will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress to build a public transportation infrastructure that is the pride of the nation and helps our communities and our nation recover from the severe economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Noting that President-elect Biden has long supported public transit, Patrick Foye, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York, supported the plan.

“President-elect Biden has always been an ardent supporter of mass transit, and we’re gratified to see it continues to be one of his key priorities as he prepares to take office next week. The American Rescue Plan is a strong start that will make significant investments in agencies hit hardest by COVID, such as the MTA,” Foye said. “I also thank the president-elect and Senator Schumer for fixing the policy preventing full FEMA reimbursement for our coronavirus pandemic-related expenses, such as our aggressive disinfecting program, and efforts to stockpile personal protective equipment and provide health screenings for our heroic employees. It’s clear the new administration believes in transit and understands that these investments will jumpstart our economic recovery. Because without a robust MTA powering New York’s revival, there can be no national rebound.”