New stimulus package introduced by House Democrats includes $15.75 billion for transit

May 13, 2020
The transit funding in the Heroes Act is in addition to the $25 billion provided in the CARES Act but is shy of what several industry groups were asking of the government.

House Democrats introduced the Heroes Act on May 12, a fifth stimulus package totaling approximately $3 trillion. The piece of legislation also includes $15.75 billion for the transit industry.  

The transit funding is in addition to the $25 billion provided to U.S. transit agencies through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but falls short of the $32 billion asked by a coalition of 15 transit agencies and $23.8 billion the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) had been advocating to be included.

The 15-agency coalition, which serves populations that represent 35 percent of the national gross domestic product when combined, asked for additional funding to help cover financial losses not eligible for reimbursement under the CARES Act.

“Revenue replenishment is our most immediate need in combination with substantial investment in transportation infrastructure to facilitate community recovery while maintaining employment. Revenues that support our operations as well as critical recapitalization and expansion have been decimated by this pandemic, and replacing them with federal funds will allow us to meet our near-term obligations while maintaining critical construction activity through 2021 that will sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in this period of unprecedented unemployment,” the 15-agency coalition wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

Maintaining employment numbers is a critical argument APTA made for additional funding, as well. The association cited an economic report from EBP US, Inc., that showed decreased investment in public transit would cost the country 37,000 construction jobs in 2020 and 34,000 construction jobs in 2021.

“The $25 billion that was provided by the CARES Act was a lifesaver for public transit services, but we now have a more complete picture of the extraordinary and devastating impact,” said APTA President & CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “These additional funds are critical to continue serving essential workers and make sure that we can help get our country back to work and to other activities that are so important for our economic recovery.”

The Heroes Act would allocate $15.75 billion for transit and would be split into a $11.75 billion bucket for urbanized area formula funds for transit entities serving populations of more than three million that would be distributed using Fiscal Year 2020 formulas and $4 billion in grants.

The act would also create relief funds for state and local governments to access through the Department of Treasury to support essential workers, including transit employees.

Leadership in the House said it plans to move the package through quickly, but Senate leaders said they would not consider any legislation sent over until after Memorial Day at the end of May.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.