PT Express 12-04-2020
December 4, 2020 | An APTA Publication
Passenger Transport Header
Leaderboard ad 650x80
APTA Calls for Immediate Action on Proposed Coronavirus Relief Plan; at Least $32B in Emergency Funding
This week, congressional democrats introduced a $908 billion bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 aid package that includes $15 billion for public transit emergency relief. APTA called it a starting point for negotiations and urged immediate action to address a “ravaged public transportation industry that continues to serve Americans every day,” and that needs at least $32 billion in emergency funding to survive.
In a statement, APTA said, “The public transportation industry’s very survival is at stake. We urge both congressional leaders and the Administration to enact COVID-19 emergency transit funding legislation before Congress adjourns for the year.” APTA has been advocating for at least $32 billion in funding and has been amplifying this message with paid social media efforts.
Public transit agencies across the country have said they will need to make drastic cuts in service and their workforces if they do not receive additional funding.
Here are some of the agencies facing dire consequences.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing cutting 40 to 50 percent of service on subway, bus and commuter rail, and laying off more than 9,300 employees. The agency said that to reduce its FY 2020 deficit, it would need to borrow nearly $3 billion from the Federal Reserve.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, which is looking to offset a nearly $500 million deficit in the next fiscal year, is considering the elimination of all weekend service, closing 19 stations, slashing already reduced bus service, and eliminating 2,400 jobs, in addition to more than one thousand jobs already on the chopping block.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency could lay off as many as 1,226 full-time employees next fiscal year, representing 22 percent of the agency’s entire workforce. Many of the employees most at risk for job cuts are the employees who have served on the frontlines during the pandemic as bus and train operators and maintenance crews. The agency is projecting a $68 million deficit in the current fiscal year, which runs through next June, and a $168 million deficit the following year.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which is projecting a shortfall of $350 million for FY 2021, said that without federal relief it will have to enact extreme measures, including service cuts, layoffs and fare increases.
The Chicago Transit Authority has said it foresees drastic service cuts if it does not receive federal funding to close a $372 million budget gap.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
Public Transit Employees to Be Considered for Prioritization for COVID-19 Vaccine
Essential employees at public transit systems are under consideration to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it is approved by the FDA, according to a recommendation this week by officials at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AICP), a component of the CDC.
Transit workers have been designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS/CISA) as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers, whose performance of critical functions places them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. APTA had urged federal organizations to make this designation.
AICP approved an interim recommendation, which calls for healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities to be eligible for the initial phase of the vaccination program, or Phase 1a. The next proposed category, “Phase 1b”, under consideration would include essential workers in fields to include transportation, education, food and agriculture, firefighters, police, utilities and corrections officers. The proposed Phase 1c under consideration includes adults with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 years of age and older.
APTA is urging transit systems and state associations to contact their state and local elected officials and public health officials to urge that public transit workers are recognized in Phase 1 of a state or city’s vaccination plan. In addition, APTA has created a letter template that members can adapt to their specific needs when sending letters outlining ways in which the agency or association can help in the distribution of the vaccine and in taking residents to vaccine sites. Visit APTA’s resource page for the letter template and other materials.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
APTA Outlines FY 21 Priorities to Senate and House THUD Subcommittees
APTA thanked the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees for their efforts to advance the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, (THUD) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act in a letter Nov. 27, urging them to provide the highest possible level of funding for public transportation and passenger rail.
In the letter to Senate Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME), House Chairman David Price (D-NC), and ranking members Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), APTA called for at least $13.4 billion to be allocated for FTA programs and at least $2.8 billion for FRA passenger rail grants to “help our communities continue to provide safe and accessible mobility options,” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
APTA urged for at least $32 billion in COVID-19 emergency funds to be dedicated for public transit and passenger rail, “as we work to maintain a lifeline and restore these essential services in each of our communities.”
Both the House and Senate bills provide significant funding increases for Urbanized Area formula grants, State of Good Repair grants, Rural formula grants, and Buses and Bus Facilities formula and competitive grants, above levels authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Extension, which APTA supports.
APTA also strongly supports the House provision that allows public transit agencies to request a 100 percent federal share for formula and competitive grants in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 and urged that transit agencies be allowed to use public transit funding for operating assistance grants in FY 2021.
Additionally, APTA urged at least $2.2 billion be provided for Capital Investment Grant projects, as provided by the House THUD Appropriations bill, and said it strongly supports the provision that enables FTA to amend current full funding grant agreements that require additional federal funding as a result of COVID-19.
Regarding passenger rail grants, APTA stated its strong support of House and Senate provisions to continue to enable commuter railroads to be eligible for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants and recommend authorizing commuter railroads to use these grants for the costs of operating and maintaining positive train control technology after completing implementation.
APTA expressed strong support for the House provisions that provide 60 percent of Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants to projects in large urbanized areas and includes a specific set-aside for planning and design of public transit, transit-oriented development, and multimodal projects.
APTA reiterated its appreciation for both the House and Senate bill provisions to prohibit implementation of the Rostenkowski Test, preventing a $6 billion, 60 percent across-the-board cut to public transit formula funding for FY 2021.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
See the latest industry employment opportunities, proposals and notices.
Go to Classifieds Button
Leaderboard ad 650x80
FTA Awards $1.37 Million to Advance Transit Infrastructure Innovation and Safety
FTA has announced grant awards to six projects in six states totaling approximately $1.37 million in research funding through the Real-Time Asset Management Program. These projects will support infrastructure innovation in the public transit industry. The program seeks to enhance asset management of infrastructure and safety by deploying innovative technologies that can provide real-time condition assessment of transit capital and facilities.
“These research grants will help improve transit operations and enhance safety for riders who use these systems every day,” said USDOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The program is an opportunity for public transit agencies to assess, detect, monitor and track deficiencies related to infrastructure and evaluate the cost-effectiveness and practicality of proposed state-of-the art solutions.
“FTA is leveraging cutting-edge technology to better maintain our nation’s transit assets, which will improve safety for both riders and front-line workers,” said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “These innovative new designs will help transit systems maintain a state of good repair, which is particularly important during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Project proposals were evaluated based on criteria outlined in a Notice of Funding Opportunity.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
New CEO Named
White, King County Metro
1204-0515TerryWhite009_x150_1764369.jpgTerry White has been appointed general manager of King County Metro, Seattle, WA. He currently serves as interim general manager.
Prior to becoming interim general manager in August, White served as deputy general manager and oversaw all Metro operations, including bus, rail and marine service, facilities and vehicle maintenance. He also served at Metro as a transportation planner, customer service administrator, communications superintendent and managing director of bus operations.
For APTA, White is a member of the Bus & Paratransit CEOs Committee and the Public Transportation CEO Coordinating Council.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
Leaderboard ad 650x80
Leaderboard ad 650x80
In Memoriam
Willis, TTD

LarryWillis_TTDpresident.5fc54dda2594d_x150_1763508.jpgLarry Willis, president of the Transportation Trade Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), died Nov. 29 from injuries sustained in a biking accident. He was 53. Willis had served as TTD president since 2017. He also served in other capacities at TTD, including as secretary-treasurer, chief of staff, general counsel and legislative counsel and representative.
“For more than 20 years, Larry dedicated his life to the labor movement, working tirelessly to enhance the rights and livelihoods of those who work on the front lines of our transportation system,” said TTD Secretary-Treasurer Greg Regan. “His mastery of complex legal and regulatory issues set the foundation for TTD’s policy leadership and raised the bar for demanding and enforcing worker protections throughout our nation’s transportation system.”
APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said, “Larry was a vigorous advocate for public transportation workers. We worked together collaboratively to better the lives of frontline transit workers—from COVID-19 emergency transit funding to frontline worker training. Larry’s effective advocacy on behalf of the transit industry and his engaging personality will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Samantha.”
Leaderboard ad 650x80
Upcoming APTA Virtual Events
2020 Legal Affairs Virtual Mini Seminar
Dec. 8
This virtual event is a new offering to transit legal professionals to obtain valuable CLE on current topics to include transit enforcement practices, impacts of COVID-19 on contracts, return-to-office policies and force majeure, as well as an update from FTA’s Office of Chief Counsel, a legislative update and a roundtable for sharing best practices. Learn more and register.
Upcoming Webinars
APTA Safety, Security and Technology Council Series
Safety Management Systems in Technology and Cybersecurity
Dec. 8, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern
APTA’s new Safety, Security and Technology Council webinar series examines an interdisciplinary approach to safety and security. The council brings together experts from various backgrounds as a platform for discussing a wide range of safety and security matters and to explore solutions for increasing safety and security using technology. This first webinar focuses on Safety Management Systems (SMS) and FTA’s Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP), the importance of SMS, and how technology may assist in implementing SMS at public transit properties throughout the U.S. and internationally. Register here.
A Focus on Small Transit Operators
Dec. 10, 3:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern
This PERSPECTIVES conversation explores how smaller public transit operators are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic, what innovative measures they have put in place, and how they are positioning themselves for the future. Join your peers as Jeff Nelson, APTA vice chair and general manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (Metrolink), Moline, IL; interviews Lauren Skiver, CEO/general manager, Sunline Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA; and Clinton Forbes, executive director, Palm Tran, West Palm Beach, FL. PERSPECTIVES is an offering of APTAU, presented by Lyft. Register here.
Innovative Mobility/Microtransit
Dec. 15, 2:00 3:30 p.m. Eastern
This webinar, as part of a series of follow-up webinars to APTA's Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Virtual Workshop, will explore the implementation of microtransit programs in Tampa and Seattle: HART’s Hyperlink program, which ran between 2017 and 2018, and the challenges associated with operating this model sustainably; and the development and iteration of King County Metro’s first/last mile pilots. Participants will receive 1.5 CEU planner credits. Learn more and register.
In Case You Missed It
Missed APTA's 2020 TRANScend: Critical Conversations for the Year Ahead virtual event? You can now purchase and rewind the conference and view more than 10 hours of content, featuring industry thought-leaders and a discussion of the long-term impacts of COVID-19, bringing riders back, putting equity at the forefront, the changing landscape of cities, policing in a new era and much more. Learn more.
View all APTAtech Conference sessions and earn continuing education credits (CEUs) with REWIND. APTAtech delivered 16 sessions, with five of which approved for planning or engineering CEUs. The event explored how the public can use innovative technologies to better navigate transit, including emerging technologies in fare payment, connected and autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, Mobility-as-a-Service, the Internet of Things and big data. Learn more.
Purchase access to on-demand content from APTA's 2020 Mobility & Rail NOW! virtual event and gain the inside track on the latest insights, trends and best practices impacting mobility and rail. This two-day event delivered 24 sessions; nine of which are approved for planning, procurement or engineering continuing education credits. The event also featured sessions on the “Future of Transit,” including what public transit will look like in the post-pandemic world. Learn more.
APTA’s 2020 Sustainability & Multimodal Planning Workshop delivered techniques that increase efficiency, resiliency and integration. Purchase on-demand content and hear from industry thought-leaders on topics related to service planning and scheduling in response to COVID-19, sustainable capital programming, equity in transit service planning and delivery, facilities planning, clean bus technologies, and route design and service planning for enhanced mobility. Learn more.
APTA’s webinars are archived and available to the public transit industry. Please click here to access APTA’s library of recordings and videos to keep informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
Severe transit cuts would cripple the U.S. economy, experts warn.
As coronavirus cases surge nationally, studies are reassuring essential workers that it’s largely safe to take public transportation.
A regional “mask force” is offering free masks on NY MTA, NJ Transit, SEPTA, PATH trains and Port Authority airports.
Leaderboard ad 650x80
American Public Transportation Association  |  1300 I St. NW, Suite 1200 East  |  Washington, DC 20005