The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the vital role public transit plays in our communities, bringing healthcare professionals to the frontlines, delivering groceries and medicine to at-risk populations, and connecting essential workers to their places of work. Still, with transit ridership declining as much as 90% in some metropolitan areas, the transit industry has been left in a dire financial crisis. Routes have been cut and drivers and other critical transit workers have been laid off or furloughed, leaving a gap in service that other essential workers depend on.
In light of this, TransLoc is joining APTA and industry partners today in participating in #SavePublicTransitDay. Organized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), #SavePublicTransitDay shines light on the critical state public transportation is in today and urges elected officials to take immediate action.
Recently, Congress proposed a bipartisan $908 billion COVID-19 aid package, and while the bill includes $15 billion for public transit emergency relief, it is only a starting point. Transit agencies need funding to, not only, maintain services, but also to implement safety and health precautions such as touch-free payment systems, passenger counting technology, contact tracing and other social-distancing measures to help restore confidence in riders.
Because of this, we at TransLoc, alongside our public transportation industry partners, call on Congress and the White House Administration to provide at least $32 billion in emergency funding to ensure that public transit agencies can survive and help our communities and nation recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
With 54 percent of transit agencies saying they are considering laying off or furloughing staff and 61 percent stating they may reduce services, in a September 2020 survey of transit agencies, the importance of this additional funding cannot be understated. Perhaps more importantly is the urgency with which Congress must act.
The survival of public transit is as stake without this additional funding. In the lame duck session before Congress recesses for the holiday, Congress must move swiftly to save public transit and the millions of Americans who depend on public transit to access critical services such as healthcare, education and employment.
We’ll leave you with these words from APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas, “Immediate action needs to be taken to address the public transportation industry’s dire financial situation so that we can continue to serve essential employees every day and can help with the nation’s economic recovery,” he said. “The industry’s very survival is at stake.”