COVID-19 Recovery Funding Made Available by FTA

The Federal Transit Administration is making $25 million in American Rescue Plan funding available via a notice of funding opportunity or NOFO to help public transportation agencies restore services suspended during the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The application deadline for this funding is November 15.

[Above photo by the Missouri DOT]

That funding – offered through the FTA’s Route Planning Restoration Program – will support transit route restoration planning, reduce travel times, and cover the cost of service adjustments for low-income riders and those in disadvantaged communities, the agency said.

FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez at podium. Photo by FTA.

“The Route Restoration Program will help transit agencies develop strategies and identify opportunities to remove barriers and increase equity in underserved communities,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez in a statement. “The drastic changes that transit agencies have seen also will provide an opportunity for them to reimagine their systems and routes, to ensure that everyone has access to transportation.”

FTA reiterated that it will select projects to receive this funding based in part on their ability to increase racial equity and advance environmental justice, in support of the President’s Executive Order on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”

The agency added that it would also gauge project applications based on their impact on the climate, as referenced in the President’s Executive Order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”

Image via the FTA

In related news, the U.S. Government Accounting Office recently issued a new report analyzing compliance challenges with the FTA’s Safety Management Systems or SMS rule finalized in 2019.

The FTA considers its SMS program a “comprehensive, collaborative approach” to managing safety by bringing management and labor together to control risk better, detect and correct safety problems earlier, share and analyze safety data more effectively, and measure safety performance more precisely.

The GAO interviewed 12 transit agencies and their nine respective state oversight agencies for its report and found that most are “generally open” to more mandatory federal standards for some safety issues.

For example, many of the selected transit agencies expressed support for requiring medical examinations of employees, as well as other so-called human-factor safety risks.

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