Public transportation agencies in Pennsylvania have continued operating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although services are limited, transit is considered part of the public health response to COVID-19, transporting essential workers to their jobs and providing access to essential services, like healthcare.
In addition to reducing service, transit agencies have responded to the pandemic by:
- Some fixed route agencies have implemented free fares to reduce driver interactions with riders;
- Shared ride continues to provide essential trips. PennDOT has provided the ability for agencies to offer free fares, alter service areas temporarily, and have same-day service in some places to make it easier for those who really need it to use the service;
- Many agencies are asking drivers and passengers to wear face coverings;
- Agencies are limited the number of passengers on busses and requiring rear door entry.
All systems are following CDC guidelines regarding cleaning and trying to enforce social distancing.
The CARES Act
On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The CARES Act provides emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and provide emergency appropriations to support Executive Branch agency operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
FTA is allocating $25 billion to recipients of urbanized area and rural area formula funds, with $22.7 billion to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion to rural areas. Funding will be provided at a 100-percent federal share, with no local match required, and will be available to support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
Pennsylvania will receive $1.1 billion in federal CARES Act funding for public transportation. The department is working with the transit agencies and the Federal Transit Administration to apply for and make sure the funding is in the hands of the agencies.
The CARES Act provides $10 billion in funds to be awarded as economic relief to eligible U.S. airports affected by the prevention of, preparation for, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bureau of Aviation administers 40 general aviation airports that are eligible to receive federal funding and are part of the State Block Grant Program. These airports are slated to receive 100% funding for their FFY 2020 appropriations through the CARES Act.