Washington DC: The Biden administration said Monday it was awarded $2.2 billion in coronavirus relief money from the American Rescue Plan to 35 financially strapped transit agencies in 18 states. The money would be used to prop up day-to-day operations, including staffing and payroll as well as cleaning and sanitization to limit the spread of illness in public transportation. A federal mask mandate for public transit remains in effect until at least March 18.
Another $1.5 billion in grants will be made available under President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law — a total of $7.5 billion over five years — for transit agencies to purchase low- or no-emission buses made by U.S. workers and to build bus facilities. That’s more than double the combined amount from the previous year.
“Our transportation sector has reached a turning point,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, who has pushed the need for electric school buses and unveiled Monday’s actions at the White House. “We can clean our air and protect the health of our children,” she said. “We can connect all of our communities with affordable, accessible, and reliable public transportation. We can address the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time.”
The cash infusion comes as mask requirements and other COVID-19 restrictions are fading in much of the U.S. With many workers beginning a return to offices, the administration sees an opportunity to promote zero-emission transit as families reestablish new commuting routes to work and school.