Busier times on 3rd Avenue, taken in November

On Thursday, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced their appropriations for $25 billion in national transit relief funding from the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress a week ago. The relief package includes $521 million in funding for transit agencies in the Seattle area, as well as an additional $133 million for other agencies and cities in Washington state. The relief funds are meant to primarily cover operating costs, especially as agencies have suspended their fare collection and are anticipating a significant drop in sales tax revenue.

The FTA has also announced that all operating expenses incurred beginning on January 20, 2020, are eligible for relief funds or support. These funds will be available to any urban or rural agency that applies directly to the FTA for aid. The share in the current appropriation will be distributed without the need for local matching funds under the normal formula programs (5307 for urbanized areas and 5311 for rural areas).

The urbanized areas of Washington receiving funds from the CARE Act are as follows:

  • $520,621,224 for Seattle, including King County Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and Everett Transit. Sound Transit has already announced that they anticipate to receive around $150 million.
  • $25,622,451 for Vancouver (C-TRAN), part of Portland’s $202 million
  • $23,440,079 for Spokane (STA)
  • $18,973,077 for the Tri-Cities (Ben Franklin Transit)
  • $11,716,276 for Bremerton (Kitsap Transit)
  • $10,465,977 for Olympia (Intercity Transit)
  • $8,786,277 for Bellingham (Whatcom Transportation Authority)
  • $7,015,726 for Wenatchee (Link Transit)
  • $6,268,035 for Yakima (Yakima Transit)
  • $6,126,677 for Marysville (Community Transit)
  • $5,882,521 for Mount Vernon (Skagit Transit)
  • $3,585,637 for Longview (River Cities Transit)
  • $3,452,453 for Walla Walla (Valley Transit)
  • $889,362 for Lewiston-Clarkston (Asotin County PTBA)

While these funds will be able to keep transit afloat for the time being, the long-term outlook for funding is uncertain. As The Seattle Times reported ($), Sound Transit and Metro have predicted major losses to tax revenue that accounts for the majority of their operating budgets.

An allotment of $44,121,608 was also made for rural agencies in Washington, which will cover many of the remaining operators in the state. The CARES Act also includes $ in transportation relief funding for tribes and reservations, listed as follows:

  • $449,831 for the Spokane Tribe
  • $335,716 for the Yakama Nation
  • $315,925 for the Kalispel Tribe
  • $148,631 for the Muckleshoot Tribe
  • $146,469 for the Colville Reservation
  • $101,994 for the Samish Nation
  • $78,429 for the Cowlitz Tribe
  • $72,650 for the Stillaguamish Tribe
  • $60,160 for the Snoqualmie Tribe
  • $58,519 for the Lummi Nation
  • $50,282 for the Tulalip Tribes
  • $38,577 for the Makah Tribe
  • $34,124 for the Squaxin Island Tribe
  • $28,608 for the Quileute Tribe
  • $18,781 for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
  • $11,280 for the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe

EDIT: The Puget Sound Regional Council has released preliminary allocations for the Seattle portion broken down by agency. These numbers are subject to change but should give us a good idea of what each system will get.

  • $242,802,154 for King County Metro
  • $166,948,498 for Sound Transit
  • $39,943,566 for Washington State Ferries
  • $38,046,394 for Community Transit (including Marysville UZA funds)
  • $20,946,278 for Pierce Transit
  • $13,227,569 for Kitsap Transit (including Bremerton UZA funds)
  • $7,219,447 for Intercity Transit
  • $3,059,729 for Everett Transit
  • $2,708,169 for Pierce County Ferry
  • $2,448,081 for City of Seattle (streetcar)
  • $1,114,290 for Skagit Transit

49 Replies to “CARES Act grants $521 million in relief funds for local agencies”

  1. I wonder why Community Transit wasn’t included under the “Seattle” appropriation. ??Perhaps the OP can clarify this. Thank you in advance.

    1. Ok, I took a look at Table 2 on the FTA site and so now I think I understand what you did with your notations regarding the various transit agencies.

      (including funds apportioned under 5337 and 5340)1

      “The total available amount for a program is based on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
      (CARES Act), (Pub. L. 116-136, Mar 27, 2020).
      Note: This table shows the amounts attributable to each State of a Multi-State Urbanized Area over 200,000 in population. Designated recipients shall continue to sub-allocate funds allocated to an urbanized area based on a locally determined process, consistent with Section 5307 statutory requirements. Each State’s share of a multi-state urbanized area was calculated on the basis of the percentage of population attributable to the States in the UZA, as determined by the 2010 Census.”

      Thus, from my understanding of FTA guidelines, CT would be eligible for a portion of the Seattle UZA apportionment under the section 5307 regs. But please correct me if I’m wrong on that. (Thanks.)

  2. I think at least some (if not all) of Community Transit is under a separate Census urbanized area designation (Marysville) so it may not be specified under the Seattle list.

    1. If you’re talking about Metropolitan Statistical Areas there isn’t one for Marysville, the entire CT district is solidly within the Seattle MSA. The next urban area isn’t until Anacortes/Mount Vernon. CSAs are even larger.

    2. Marysville is the biggest city in Snohomish County without any ST service, so that could be part of it. The question is, if this is really allocated to Marysville’s transit and all of it must be used on Marysville routes?

      1. “Urbanized Areas” or UZAs are not the same as the more commonly used but much less precise Metropolitan Statistic Areas (MSAs), which are based on county line, not built-up area.

        This description from PSRC is pretty decent :

        The Census Bureau classifies “urban” as all territory, population, and housing units located within an urbanized area (UZA) or an urban cluster (UC). It delineates UZA and UC boundaries to encompass densely settled territory, which consists of:
        • Core census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile.
        • Surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile.
        FTA further delineates urbanized areas into three types:
        • UZAs with 1 million or more in population (Seattle–Tacoma–Everett).
        • UZAs with 200,000–999,999 in population (none in region).
        • UZAs with 50,000 to 199,999 in population (Bremerton and Marysville).

        https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/t2040update2014appendixk.pdf see pg 7 for a map of the 3 UZAs in our region

      2. Thanks Luc. Just to put things in perspective, here is a census map of Seattle (https://arcg.is/1DKiHa). You really have to drag it out to the boonies to get below the “urban area” of 1,000 people per square mile (and even then, some of those areas would be included because they are adjacent to the other areas, and have 500 people per square mile). North Bend, for example, is above this line. Other than industrial or parkland, all of the Seattle suburbs are included. This includes all of Sammamish, for example.

        Marysville is a separate UZA because it is big enough, and not contiguous with the Everett because of the Snohomish River delta.

  3. Trying, in these really “Trying” times to put people and their transit ahead of politics….How much of a working relationship do we have with the Federal Government right now?

    Mark Dublin

  4. And also, how many teeth does the Stop The Plague Shut Down Transit! campaign really got in its bite?

    Mark Dublin

  5. Public: ST, what do you plan on doing with your $150 million dollar check? ST: Starting Monday, we’re bumping Link headways down to 20 minutes. Public: Wait. You’re not adding service, you’re reducing it? ST: Yup. Thanks for the money, suckers.

    1. If ridership continues to fall, as it should with the stay at home order, headways could slip down every 30 or every 45 minutes with reduced service hours

    2. Um, Sam, “ST” is not a person. There’s nobody who would get the money in a “Thanks for the money, suckers” scenario.

      Projection is not applicable to the behavior of government agencies.

    3. The agencies are probably still losing a ton of money. Twenty minute service is harsh, but reasonable. If you knew that money was coming later, you would run transit more often, but given the current realities, it is reasonable, although unfortunate.

      As I wrote elsewhere, I would say the biggest problem is adjusting the system. This was a problem as the trains went to 14 minute service. Much of the transit in northeast Seattle, for example, is based on sending people to Link, where they will then go downtown. Does that really make sense anymore? Buses — even on surface streets — are plenty fast. From a public health standpoint, it isn’t good to have lots of people inside, waiting for the train (with little to no chance of timing the connection). Fortunately, there are other options (like the 49, and the 70 if you are going downtown).

      Cutting to twenty minutes is reasonable, especially since it isn’t that much of a degradation from 14.

    4. The money is needed to allow service to quickly get back to normal when the virus crisis abates? Otherwise, right as people start going back to work, the lack of money hits home, and they don’t have buses to get them there.

      1. Which may be as good a reason as any to cut costs now by reducing service when demand is low. There’s been enough time for government to work with employers and issue essential worker badges (hospitals do that as a matter of preparedness). And yes, you’d need a stinking badge to get on transit.

        London has a bad situation. I know that story is a week old but I talked with a cousin that lives there and she said the tube is currently three train waits because of reduced service. Obviously there’s a big difference between performing an “essential public service” and individuals “essential to pay the rent and buy food”.

      2. The grant is to defray essential operations when the ridership/revenue formula is inapplicable. Hospitals have their own internal badges but there’s no statewide badge. Waiting for the third tube train means waiting ten or fifteen minutes, not waiting an hour.

      3. Waiting three trains in London was a 10 minute wait under the normal schedule but that’s been drastically reduced including shutting down entire lines and major station closures on the ones still running. But the issue isn’t the wait it’s the cattle car conditions that have resulted.

    5. All northeast Seattle routes go to Campus Parkway where you can transfer to the 70 or 49 to downtown. Since congestion has vanished this is not as time-consuming as it usually is.

  6. Additional service cuts are coming with link light rail running every 20 minutes.

    1. Pretty soon even STB will have to agree that Kirkland route 255 riders have gotten royally screwed with the service truncation. We shall see how much frequency and span of route 255 get cut on Monday, but the transfer is now to 20 minute Link service and as best as I can tell there is not attempt to synchronize buses and Link. At least for the duration of UW closure and the shelter in home, what remains of route 255 riders would be better served by being able to ride direct and transfer to far more service at 5th/Pine/Westlake than to 20 minute Link service at Husky stadium.

      1. The 255 changes probably don’t make sense right now, given the current realities. I’m not sure the old system makes sense either. We probably want something akin to the night owl service, but not so drastic. Frequency is low, which means transfers are going to be bad. For health reasons, transfers are probably a bad idea anyway. Traffic is light, which means surface streets are not that slow. That in turn means that you don’t have to worry that much a route being unreliable if it is too long.

        I could see the 255, for example, combining with the 49. Riders from Kirkland still get to downtown without a transfer. Someone in the U-District would have to walk a little ways (down to Campus Parkway) but most could do that just fine. Metro saves quite a bit of money, and folks muddle along.

        Unfortunately, that would be a lot of work, and require a level of flexibility not found here, or probably anywhere. It is hard enough updating the schedules, and deciding which buses get cut, or how other routes are reduced. To go through a major restructure — quickly create a “virus route”, similar to a “snow route”, if you will — is a bit unrealistic.

        So, too is the idea that we should suddenly regress to the system we had a couple months ago. Would you really like the 255 if it ran every hour, but took you directly downtown?

      2. From anybody who actually has to ride transit now, any ride quality difference between train and bus? Considering that LINK is indoor and underground at Husky Stadium- that is UW, not Royal Brougham, isn’t it?-think I’d do better to wait a little longer for the train. Which is also pretty much weather and traffic proof. In addition to wider Social Distance.
        Any good firsthand observations?

        Mark Dublin

      3. The suggestion to combine the 49 with the 255 isn’t going to happen as Metro has its hands full just trying to keep the service going with many operators not wanting to work and understandably so . It is not a bad idea but instead Metro could combine the 45 and 48 since that was the route several years ago and right now both routes have their terminal on the UW campus so combining them temporarily could result with fewer buses needed with the 2 routes separate and have more drivers available for other routes. Combining the 45 and 48 would be smooth as only 2 stops would be missed and those would be by the Light Rail station and one of those would be last stop for the 45 and the other one would be the first one for the 45 on Montlake going south. So very little inconvenience for the passengers versus 49 passengers having to go from 45th street to the Light Rail Station to catch their bus if the 49 was combined with the 255.

      4. The 255 terminates at Pacific & 15th, which is three blocks from the Schmitz Hall stop for the 49 and 70. It should be extended to 12th & Campus Parkway so there’s a direct transfer.

      5. The suggestion to combine the 49 with the 255 isn’t going to happen

        Yeah, that’s my point. It is all good and well to say that the 255 restructure no longer makes sense, but going back to the old system is like combining the 49 and 255 too routes: not worth the trouble given what everyone hopes will be a temporary situation.

      6. If you’re going to do all that, you may as well just switch to the 545 at Yarrow Point/Evergreen Point. At least on weekdays, it doesn’t look *that* bad.

        Still, even if the 255 restructure didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be a panacea because frequencies would still have to be cut to keep the number of buses the same. At least according to OneBusAway, running today’s 255 every 15 minutes takes 8 buses. Under the old schedule, running the 255 every 30 minutes took 7 buses, so the tradeoff would likely be (under the old routing) 30-minute service all-day on weekdays, hourly service evenings/weekends.

        Once idea I hope Metro is doing during the pandemic is looking for opportunities to run the same schedule with fewer buses, due to less traffic and less ridership allowing for less padding in the schedule. For instance, a route that might ordinarily need 20-30 minutes of layover time might be able to get away with 10 minutes just fine.

      7. versus 49 passengers having to go from 45th street to the Light Rail Station to catch their bus if the 49 was combined with the 255

        It is all very hypothetical (and will never happen for the reasons I mentioned) but the idea would be that people would walk from 45th to Campus Parkway to catch the 49 (as I wrote). The middle of the route would look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/HasbLJhYgDXzK7ps9.

      8. The 255 running downtown every 30 minutes is more useful than the 255 running frequently but unsynchronized to the Link schedule. Without investment in technology to hold buses/trains when the incoming is late, it’s hard to synchronize anyway, especially given uncertainty of escalators and elevators and traffic lights.

        What will Metro be doing when the 520 project creates bridge closures or off-ramp closures? Will they run the 255 across I-90 and then bypass downtown on I-5 up to NE 45th St? That would be absurd but it’s also likely. And it will also prevent a transfer to 545. Would be better to either send the 255 to the Bellevue Transit Center or else via I-90 downtown.

        Since we are likely in this distancing and service reduction for a long time, redirecting the 255 downtown for the foreseeable future would be the most sensible decision, especially with the reduced service levels. But the dogma of this truncation won’t let that happen so instead we will run less sensible and useful service. This didn’t need to happen to do the rest of the Eastside restructure and there were clearly enough drawbacks to the truncation that it should not have occurred.

      9. The 255 running downtown every 30 minutes is more useful than the 255 running frequently but unsynchronized to the Link schedule.,

        Sure, but you seem to be ignoring the responses. What if the 255 to downtown runs every hour, or every 90 minutes? That is the reality we are dealing with right now.

        Besides, you are missing the bigger point. Metro is not going to restructure the routes. We can all fantasize about different routing that would make more sense right now (I did, so did Jeff). But that isn’t going to happen. The 255 runs to the U-District. That is its *current* routing. Changing the route to something else would be a restructure, and just like connecting the 255 with the 49, or connecting the 45 with the 48, it won’t happen. The situation in Kirkland is no different than much of Seattle. They aren’t going to start sending the 71, 72 and 73 downtown, like they did before Link got to the UW. With all that is going on, calling for a restructure is unrealistic.

      10. Going back to the “classic” DT route would be simplest and the most efficient for the majority of riders pre-Covid19. But with tech employees working from home what “essential services” are people accessing with this route? UW health science is the 800# gorilla. I know of one person that takes the 255 from Seattle to work at the Fred Meyer in Kirkland but no idea how the restructure affected that commute and that’s got to be an outlier case.

      11. Metro has taken what was a well-performing route 255, certainly the Kirkland-Downtown Seattle segment was a solid route in terms of ridership and frequency, and turned it into something that is significantly less reliable (introducing Montlake Bridge openings/closures and Husky stadium events), less convenient, and slower during most operating scenarios. It will never generate the ridership to support the promised frequency so the frequency will disappear. The 255 was not broken (except perhaps the Brickyard tail) and should not have been made broken. While we couldn’t foresee the CoVid crisis, all that it does is hasten the inevitable, which is going to be lower service levels and forced transfers into a death spiral. The CoVid situation makes the service pattern useless – are we really going to pour large numbers of service hours into a terrible connection scenario? The same service hours can be used more effectively with a direct service. With the current plan, you can practically kiss the 255 good-by and I doubt that it ever returns to the promised schedule. Sometimes it’s better not to break something that works.

      12. What broke the 255 was trains hogging the bus tunnel. Once all the buses were booted there wasn’t room on the surface streets to take up the slack. The 255 with it’s already congestion prone crossing of I-5 was deemed the least bad choice.

      13. I-5 congestion was more time-consuming and unpredictable than the tunnel. It;s frustrating to take a bus and slow from lake union to downtown, and then sometimes wait several cycles to get to the Stewart Street traffic light.

  7. Since the fan went brown and unsanitary-incidentally, need to check Mad Magazine Don Martin Sound Effect Division-what’s the longest anybody’s schedule and budget has stayed the same? Gotta be a website where I can bet on this. Can anybody give me a link (NOT THE ONE WITH ALL THOSE LATE TRAINS!) Thanks.

    Mark Dublin

  8. Anybody here who works in scheduling? At the general rate things are going, if any change starts causing a problem, how long will it take you to fix it? Because one thing that Seattle Transit Blog can really help with is to give us a hands-on “feel” for the system transit has to work with now. Any help or insights, many thanks.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Metro added some service back a couple weeks ago to a few routes that go downtown. It only took them a few days to do this.

  9. And another mode-choice consideration. On the train, my company would be less of a risk to the driver than on a bus. We really owe those men and women a lot for just coming to work. Certainly until we get some adequate face-protection.

    Still waiting for straight story as to why a country of our size, wealth, and technology can’t assure every worker a mask- I’ve had courses at Lake Washington about 3D modeling. Like everything else, disagreement about their value. Realistically, at least widespread hazard pay ’til we get a vaccine.

    Mark Dublin

  10. And from all those years driving the Route 49 in the days when it was the Broadway Route 7 with poles on the roof and no pathetically-underpowered diesel in the trailer- you don’t give your heaviest city trolley route a diesel “tail” to the suburbs.


  11. Metro is considering eliminating Sunday Service during the pandemic or at a minimum running all routes every 90 minutes.

    1. Where did you hear that from? I can see KC Metro going to an ESN network as a last resort, perhaps. Eliminating one day of the week will penalize ESSENTIAL workers needing transit on Sundays/Holidays. You probably see a total shutdown when it gets that bad and not just eliminate one day a week.

    2. 60 minutes is a ,more likely minimum. Say your job starts at 6am and it’s a half-hour trip. The bus arrives at 8:15. That’s too late so you take the previous one. You leave at 6:15 arrive at 6:45, and then twiddle your thumbs for an hour and fifteen minutes until your shift starts. You end at 5pm but the bus left at 4:45. So you want for the next one 6:15, and get home at 6:45.

      You’ve been out twelve hours and thirty minutes for an 8-hour job. And the job location may not have much of a waiting area or anything around it and the doors may be locked, so you can’t do much productive or restful during it, you just have to wait impatiently. This is the reality for people living in North Bend or the Snoqualmie, and you think it’s effective in a large city?

      1. And you assume the employer at this essential service is doing nothing to make life easier for their essential employees during this time of crises. And of course this hypothetical person living in North Bend or Snoqualmie is in a zero car household; pretty thin argument for bus service to North Bend that was marginal in normal times.

  12. I can’t help but wonder how the sausage was made. Looking at the half million for the Spokane Tribe for example. They run the Moccasin Express and some on reservation paratransit. The system is fare free and the Moccasin Express has been shut down entirely. So, if I’m doing the math right, they went from zero revenue to zero revenue and $X.xx in cost to zero. So they have all of the not incurred expenses available post closure. Of course the big hit to revenue is the casino closure but it seems that pot of money should be from a hotel/restaurant/entertainment pot rather than transit dollars. In the big scheme the total grant amounts to ~$150 per tribal member so if that’s what is took to push the bill through then so be it.

    More egregious is the $2.5M for the Seattle Streetcar. SLU is a ghost town and that line was built to spur business development. The 1st hill line didn’t exist a few short years ago and is difficult to have much sympathy for. Seattle wants a cool but useless streetcar, fine. But a bailout?

    1. “I can’t help but wonder how the sausage was made.”

      Same here.

      All the PSRC website says is this:
      “The bulk of the region’s federal transit funds are typically distributed by a proportional formula based on the service characteristics of each transit agency.”

      Ok, show us your work then. Is the PSRC using the 2019 APTA ridership data to calculate these local apportionments? Just for grins, I took a look at this for a few of the agencies to see what this operational bailout money breaks down to on a per trip basis (per the final 2019 APTA report):

      SnoCo PBTA (CT) – total trips (all modes) – 11,132,000
      Kitsap Transit – 3,853,000
      King Co Metro – 127,585,000
      Sound Transit – 48,131,000

      PSRC’s preliminary apportionment:
      CT – Seattle UZA – $31.920M
      – Marysville UZA – $6.127M
      CT Total – $38.047M
      KT – Seattle UZA – $1.511M
      – Bremerton UZA – $11.716M
      KT Total – $13.227
      KingCo Metro Total – $242.802M
      Sound Transit Total – $166.948M

      So the CARES Act subsidy per trip works out as follows:
      CT – $3.42/trip
      KT – $3.43
      Metro – $1.90
      ST – $3.47

      Thus, PSRC really needs to show us what their formula is.

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