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The latest general information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on Coronavirus.gov. For USDOT specific COVID-19 resources, please visit our page.

Conference Call with Transit Stakeholders

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Conference Call with Transit Stakeholders
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thank you—and let me commend Acting Administrator Jane Williams and her team for the great job they are doing in keeping the lines of communication open.

Good afternoon everyone!

First, let me thank all of you for your tremendous resilience and heroic action during this difficult time.  I know it hasn’t been easy!  But transit workers are critical to helping first responders, health care workers, other critical service providers, and people who need to access health care get to where they need to go, as we face this unprecedented national emergency together.

So please pass along my sincere thanks to your staff- especially those on the frontlines- who are working to keep the buses and trains running and providing essential services in our communities.                                    

We all understand the extraordinary budgetary impacts transit is facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. With that in mind, FTA activated flexibilities under the Emergency Relief Program that allow transit agencies to take actions to protect riders and employees now, and to use federal resources to cover related expenses.

All transit providers, including those in large urban areas, can now use federal formula funds for emergency-related capital and operating expenses. This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of trains, buses, and stations.  Let me note that this also includes placing public hand sanitizers in high traffic areas, and personal protective equipment for workers.  These costs can now be covered at a federal share of 80 percent instead of the typical 50 percent. 

You can also request other relief from federal requirements by making a request through the Federal Transit Administration’s Emergency Relief Docket.

The Department understands that many transit agencies are experiencing disruptions to normal operating procedures.  As a result, some potential applicants to FTA’s grant programs may not be able to submit timely applications to our recent Notices of Funding Opportunity.

Therefore, I’m announcing that starting today the Department will extend the deadlines for each of those NOFOs for 30 days. Please check the DOT/FTA website for more details.

As you know, the Senate has passed the CARES Act with an unanimous vote to provide historic relief for the American people.  The Administration continues working with Congress so the President can sign the bill into law.  The Department is prepared to implement the law providing economic assistance to the transit industry and the American people who depend on public transportation every day.   

Finally, let me reiterate that safety is the top priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Department is well-versed in how to prepare for and respond to challenging situations: we are open and here for you.   

Please do not hesitate to contact Jane Williams and her team with your questions, concerns and suggestions. 

In fact, it is important that we hear from you. The Department is a key part of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.  Every day, we feed the critical information we get from you and other stakeholders into the Task Force, so they can get a complete picture of how Covid-19 is impacting our country and craft policies to address it.

So thank you again, and now let me turn it back over to Acting Administrator Jane Williams to discuss some recent developments in more detail.

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