The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been awarded $1.24 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday.
The funds are intended to help transit agencies around the country maintain service and keep workers on the payroll as surging COVID-19 cases strain the economy.
“Public transportation has helped people reach their jobs at hospitals, grocery stores, ports and more throughout this pandemic,” said Buttigieg, who had visited Long Beach on Tuesday to discuss progress being made to supply chain disruptions and the backlog of container vessels.
“This funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will help keep transit service running, protect transit employees from layoffs and ensure people can get where they need to go,” he added.
The Federal Transit Administration’s administrator, Nuria Fernandez, said, “As our nation’s transit systems recover from COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan funds ensure that they continue to provide service to the many Americans who depend on transit to get to essential jobs, health care and vaccine appointments.”
L.A. Metro Board of Directors Chair and County Supervisor Hilda Solis celebrated the grant and said it would help the agency amid struggles brought on by the pandemic.
“As Los Angeles County experiences another surge of infections in our nearly two-year battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources provided to our agency through the American Rescue Plan Act will help us weather the storm, continue on our path to rebuild and grow our ridership, maintain the highest standards of service and safety, ensure no employee is laid off, and provide equitable access to transit for all Los Angeles County residents who rely on Metro buses and trains,” Solis said.
“Metro will use the America Rescue Plan Act funds to benefit riders, including seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income and transit dependent individuals by supporting bus and rail operations and maintenance — critical activities that will ensure our transit system operates safely, efficiently, reliably, and sustainably.”
Metro employs about 11,000 workers, and in 2020 provided some 215 million trips.
The funding is part of more than $30 billion for public transportation in the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by Biden in March.
Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins on Wednesday credited federal funding last year for allowing Metro to keep most of its service running and keeping its workers employed during the pandemic.
“Congress also had the foresight to provide funds so we could continue construction of capital projects that will serve our region for many decades to come. We truly appreciate this help from Congress and the White House that is making a difference for everyone in our region,” Wiggins said.
To date, the FTA has awarded over $56 billion in COVID-relief funding to transit agencies nationwide.