Dallas Area Rapid Transit has received a $229.6 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CARES Act was enacted on March 27, and its funding allows access to valuable financial resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the FTA, DART will use the grant award to fund transit service, health and safety expenses, and wages during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
DART has continued to provide bus, light rail, paratransit, streetcar, police, and Trinity Railway Express transit service amid the ongoing pandemic. According to DART, these services ensure that North Texans have access to essential jobs and medical facilities.
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“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.
The CARES Act funds given to DART will be used as a partial reimbursement for funds DART already spent on COVID-19 efforts.
The Federal Transit Administration allocated $25 billion to recipients of urbanized and rural area formula funds, with $22.7 billion allocated to urban areas and $2.2 billion allocated to rural areas.
The funding does not require a local match and is available to support capital, operating, and other expenses eligible under those programs to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Operating expenses that were incurred beginning on January 20, 2020 for all rural and urban recipients are also eligible. This includes operating expenses to maintain transit services and paying for administrative leave for transit personnel due to reduced operations during the pandemic.
“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,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “These federal funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies of all sizes providing essential travel and supporting transit workers across the country who are unable to work because of the public health emergency.”
In addition to the CARES Act funding, FTA issued a Safety Advisory that prompts transit agencies to implement policies and procedures regarding face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, social distancing, and hygiene. These policies and procedures should be consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance.