TransitCenter:

This makes new bill more responsive to the specific budget problems each agency is facing due to COVID. Many regions underfunded in the CARES Act (like New York and Seattle) are now in line to receive proportionally more from this package. Others received aid greater than 75% of their operating costs in the CARES Act, so they would not get additional funds through this bill. Many fall in between, with grants that bring them up to the 75% cap.

Yonah Freemark has more estimates on Twitter:

The bulk of the funds will presumably go to Metro and Sound Transit.

11 Replies to “Feds sending relief to local transit agencies”

  1. A technical observation: This appears to use the Federal definition of urbanized areas. Thus, the Seattle region includes Snohomish and Pierce County urban parts as well as King — but not those in Thurston or Kitsap. This is more notable in the Bay Area, where Santa Clara County isn’t part of the San Francisco — Oakland metro area or Southern California, where Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are not part of the Los Angeles — Long Beach —Anaheim metro area.

    It’s been theorized that the definitions were structured to make Texas metro areas look bigger relative to those in California, although the official definition is due to the criterion to have one-directional commute patterns at the county level.

  2. Here’s some perspective on what was included in last night’s Senate-passed (92-6) combined relief and FY21 funding bill, as far as money being allocated to transportation*:

    Transportation aid-

    Lawmakers also agreed to provide $45 billion in transportation-related assistance, including:

    •$16 billion for airlines to pay the salaries of workers and contractors.
    •$14 billion for mass transit agencies.
    •$10 billion for highways.
    •$1 billion for Amtrak.

    *figures cited are from the following source:
    https://www.npr.org/2020/12/21/948744901/here-is-whats-in-congress-covid-19-relief-package

    1. It’s galling that airlines get more than public transit this time around too, despite carrying almost 10x fewer passengers, and with many fewer essential trips, but I’ll still take it as an early holiday present. At least the absolute dollar amounts are closer to parity, especially with the Amtrak money included on the public transit side of the ledger.

      Does anyone know if Metro’s promise of no cuts in 2021 was predicated on this funding, or if it’s on top of what they were already budgeting on?

    2. Well, the transit allocation is actually half the amount that was in the House’s already reduced stimulus/relief package. KUOW reported on this earlier today:

      https://www.kuow.org/stories/what-the-federal-stimulus-bill-means-for-sound-transit-projects

      This excerpt stuck out like a sore thumb:

      “Rogoff promised that light rail access to Bellevue, Redmond, Lynnwood, and Federal Way will not be delayed.

      ” “All but one of them are on time and under budget,” Rogoff said.”

      False. False. False. False.

  3. This IS good news, isn’t it? Especially the hint that the United States of America might still have a Federal Government. Who would’ve thought that could ever happen again?

    I know it could be early to start talking about how our service area is going to put its money to work. I know it’s only natural to think first about increasing service.

    Which to my mind, calls first for both procurement and operator training. Including some intensive work, at the controls instead of a laptop. To get the most out of whatever vehicles we already have.

    So Class of 2020, here’s one squarely over the net and into your court. And very strongly personal. From my work-station behind a DSTT steering wheel, for around thirty years I watched the century’s most innovative public system get literally thrown away and back-closeted.

    Because its multiplicity of governing bodies all agreed that “platooning”, meaning coupler-free coupling, was just too much work. True, its most unlikely that our first subway will ever get its buses back.

    Nor should it. Because their backups resonate so far, Regional trains come first. But platooning’s definitely on my mind for Route 7 possibilities. Columbia City crowding’s unacceptable. And so is failing to fix it. That neighborhood is now so full of life.

    But that 1892 Kroll map showed the wire and tracks. For many years, public transit for sure was there. Maybe still some of the tracks. Mode-choice has to think of spatial-use as a priority. A signal pre-empting skillfully-driven quadruple platoon of 60-footers….What’s their haulage compared to railcars?

    However we handle it, and I’ve confidence we surely can, our subsidies are nether beggars’ alms or conscience-salve.
    Look up “Trolleybus Sao Paulo.”

    But also keep in mind that KCM already has extremely advanced articulated electric buses. To start practicing with wherever we feel like. Let a child ride-along once and Transit’s got a voter for life.

    Mark Dublin

      1. The federal stimulus at 75% of 2018 operational costs will be inadequate. At the same time until the pandemic ends we really don’t know how transit use will shake out. But we can guess.

        My own guess is ST will need some state help for ST 3, without subarea equity, but those expenditures make a zillion times more sense than interstate rail or the “Cascadia line” (because Gregoire is the lobbyist).

        Even more critical is Metro coverage and frequency.

        The best thing may be working from home. Because of subarea equity ST is running fixed rail to an enormous and undense East King Co. that has every intention of staying undense. Big deal. You don’t have to live there. Our highways and transit are all scaled for peak commuters.

        If I have learned anything from this blog it is the mode and attraction of transit depends on frequency, FOR THOSE FEW WHO USE IT.

        If I have tried to say anything, it is most of King Co. doesn’t want that density. Transit serves housing desires. It is foolish to think anything will kill cars.

        If West Seattle and even Ballard make little sense for light rail what were transit advocates thinking running East Link across LakecWashington except for subarea equity? Or to Angle Lake and Lynnwood. I thought you guys were against sprawl.

        The biggest issue IMO is the decay of the Seattle downtown core, and the migration of transit advocates and “Urbanists” to Seattle’s exurban neighborhoods. I am always surprised when regular posters on this blog note they live in incredibly rural areas.

        Unfortunately Seattle as a city is equal geographically to the enormous size of King Co. The tragedy is we lost the urban core, for housing and retail. It sounds stupid to me for an “Urbanist” to demand a mild upzone of Ballard they can never afford. Ballard is pretty lame “Urbanism”, although a very nice suburban city, which is why it is so expensive, especially when you include K-12 private education.

        Our problem is we have no real urban core anyone wants to live in, so we run lines to Lynnwood with the delusion Lynnwood will become an urban utopia. Come on man, as Ross would say, has anyone been to Lynnwood. We are like LA when it comes to sprawl. We have no “core” anymore.

        Housing subsidies, transit, and Urbanism should be concentrated in the downtown core, except the streets — especially for women — are not perceived as safe, certainly at night.

        Today the Urbanist has a video that examines car free cities, or areas of cities, except we have lost our downtown core.

        If there are two points I would like to make they are: 1. Women and moms perceive Eastside cities as safe for them and their kids; and 2. retail follows moms and women because they buy 99% of everything in America.

        Unless Seattle’s downtown core becomes attractive for tourists and urbanists there won’t be urbanism. West Seattle is not “urban”.

        Working from home means folks are moving out, unless there is a reason to move into the core. And without an urban core you just don’t have the density for frequent transit, because you will also lose the commuter who doesn’t have to take transit to the city core unless they want to.

        Does anyone really think transit makes Paris Paris.? And how many travel to the ethnic neighborhoods surrounding Paris when visiting. Fix Seattle’s downtown core and you will fix transit, especially with working from home, and create the urban core many talk of but few live in

      2. While I definitely do not agree that downtown Seattle is perceived as unsafe or that the downtown core is decaying, I do think Seattle needs to reevaluate its core, in terms of meaning and size. It’s why I’ve advocated upzoning between Seattle’s “urban villages” rather than eliminating all SFH zones. We need a larger, denser core. One that can afford and justify its own subway system. One with a density of other cities of its size, present or future. Whether we like it or not, single family homes are a traditional element of many US West Coast cities. So rather than fight that, push it out to the edges of the city.

        Sadly, I feel many people argue for an “all or nothing” approach, one that will provide some extra housing but not help shape the Seattle of tomorrow. This means entire neighborhoods will be transformed vertically, yes. But it also gives those neighborhoods the opportunity to design that higher storied community now, to keep the flavor of that community when the changes come.

  4. Not as much as I’d like, but more than I expected.

    I wish the state and the county would kick in more money, too.

    1. The state and county don’t have the money and, unlike the feds, they can’t fund it with massive borrowing.

      1. Sure they can! Only two entities – State of Illinois and the MTA – took advantage of the Federal Reserve emergency funding vehicles, which means the other 49 states felt they were able to meet their own financial needs using the open market. Given the historically flat yield curve, the difference between the Feds borrowing another trillion and a large, wealthy state like WA borrowing a few billion is mostly political.

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