APTA asks House, Senate committees for emergency relief for public transit

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In letters to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) asked Congress to include at least $129 million in emergency funds for public transit agencies.

The association said that the money would be used to offset the costs of emergency transportation services, rebuilding damaged infrastructure, and replacing vehicles lost or destroyed during recent natural disasters. The letter to U.S. Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Kay Granger (R-TX), David Price (D-NC), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), as well as U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), the association asked that the money be added to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Public Transportation Emergency Relief program.

“Over the past three weeks, APTA conducted a survey of public transit agencies and identified at least $129 million of unmet funding needs from agencies responding to and recovering from recent natural disasters,” the letter said. “For instance, last month, President Biden declared a major disaster under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (FEMA-4665-DR-MO) in Missouri for severe storms and flooding that severely impacted the St. Louis region. The July 2022 flooding caused approximately $40.4 million (in) damage to the Bi-State Development Metrolink public transit system, including destroying a light rail vehicle, two station elevators, and a signal house. The flooding also severely damaged five miles of light rail track bed and communications, signal, and fiber optics systems housed in two communications rooms and four signal houses. In addition, other public transit agencies have reported $89 million in damages to their transit systems as a result of recent natural disasters.”

The association pointed out that previous natural disasters, like Hurricane Irma or the Alaska earthquake, resulted in Congress providing emergency funding to FTA’s Public Transportation Emergency Relief program.