The federal government is granting $1.75 billion to New Jersey Transit in COVID-19 aid, money which the agency argues is sorely needed as the global pandemic decimates ridership.
NJ Transit will receive the money from the Federal Transit Administration, as part of the $25 billion for public transit agencies under the “Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act’s” $2.2 trillion of federal stimulus dollars.
In a letter last month, the agency told the state’s congressional delegation it was facing an 88 percent drop in ridership, leading to a drop in fares. Combined with the mounting costs of constantly sanitizing facilities, NJ Transit said it would see a $1.25 billion hole in its budget by June 30, 2021.
NJ Transit would now have to apply for the federal grants for which it is eligible – that would then need approval by the FTA and U.S. Department of Labor.
The FTA uses a funding formula to gauge how much should go to NJ Transit and other agencies:
- Areas with population between 50,000 and 199,000: $16,043,208
- Areas with population between 200,000 and 1 million: $123,030,612
- Areas with population over 1 million: $1,599,792,132
- Rural areas: $13,321,545
Public transit and airplane usage has plummeted as tens of millions of people opt to shelter in place in order to avoid exposure to the virus.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – which oversees the majority of bridges, tunnels, seaports and airports in the New York City metro area – said it could see a $1.9 billion hole in its budget as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The bi-state agency relies on usage fees, tolls, rental fees and a variety of other revenue sources, and usage has dropped at virtually all of these facilities.
“We know that many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges and these funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a Thursday statement.