1 1 (March 30, 2020)

handle is hein.crs/govcszz0001 and id is 1 raw text is: 









               Researh Sevice





Public Transportation and Amtrak Funding in

the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)



March 30, 2020

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-
136) was signed into law. Included in the act is a $25 billion appropriation from the general fund of the
U.S. Treasury for public transportation agencies and another $1 billion for Amtrak. This emergency
funding would support agencies in the midst of an unprecedented decline in ridership due to the COVID-
19 pandemic. For example, the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority has reported that in late
March 2020 its rail ridership is down about 90% on a daily basis compared with equivalent days a year
earlier, and bus ridership is down about 70%. Amtrak's ridership is down about 90%.


Public Transportation Funding

The CARES Act directs the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to distribute the funds for transit
agencies within seven days after enactment according to five existing formulas. After administrative
deductions, the amounts would be: $13.8 billion apportioned according to the urbanized area formula,
$1.8 billion according to the rural formula, $7.5 billion according to the state of good repair formula,
$860 million according to the high density states formula, and $830 million according to the fast growing
states formula. The urbanized area formula is weighted by population size and the amount of service
provided, but funding is distributed to all urbanized areas, places with 50,000 people or more. The state of
good repair formula mainly directs funding to places with transit rail, weighted by the size of the system.
Transit agencies in New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco
receive the largest shares of state of good repair funding.
Under existing law, federal funding for transit agencies in urbanized areas of 200,000 people or more is
typically restricted to capital expenditures. Federal operating support for transit agencies in smaller
urbanized areas and rural areas is limited to a maximum 50% federal share. The CARES Act allows any
transit agency to use the funds for operating expenses with a federal share of 100%. While the intent of
the funding is to support operating expenses, such as employee pay and extra station and vehicle cleaning,
funding could be directed to capital expenditures such as buying buses.
The $25 billion appropriation for public transportation is about twice the S 12.5 billion of federal funding
spent by transit agencies in 2018 on operating and capital expenditures, and about half the $52.3 billion

                                                                 Congressional Research Service
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