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Transit agencies sound the alarm: COVID-19 is a long-term threat to service

We need you to take action to save transit: Please email and call your member of Congress asking them to support emergency funding for transit agencies. It only takes a minute.

The COVID-19 pandemic is decimating transit agencies’ budgets. Without emergency assistance from Congress, public transportation won’t be there when this crisis subsides—yet the Senate Republicans’ proposed stimulus bill doesn’t give transit a cent. Join transit agencies across the country and tell Congress that transit needs emergency funding. 

“Empty Metro” by Mike Maguire on Flickr’s Creative Commons

Transit ridership is plummeting as millions of Americans practice critically important social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19—and transit agencies are happy about it. Both Washington, DC and New York City’s subway systems tweeted rapidly falling ridership numbers with joy, praising people for taking social distancing seriously. 

But despite the praise, transit agencies also know that this loss of ridership is devastating their budgets. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Washington, DC region’s Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) know that this is a recipe for long-term service reductions. Both agencies are calling for emergency funding from Congress, with the MTA specifically calling for $4 billion. “No agency of our size can find additional billions in savings equivalent to the damages we have and will sustain as a result of this pandemic,” MTA CEO Pat Foye said in the letter to New York’s Congressional delegation. “This is a national disaster that requires a national response.” Washington’s Metro is projecting a $52 million a month operating deficit.

Revenue from local or state sales taxes make up the other biggest portion of transit agencies’ budgets, and with the local economy being virtually shut down in many places, those funds will be rapidly dwindling as well. Increased costs from additional cleaning and measures to protect employees, such as the purchase of gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, and other protective equipment, are evaporating funds faster than normal, too. 

That’s why with only 24 hours’ notice over 220 elected officials, cities, transit agencies and organizations across the country signed a letter written by T4America and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) urging Congress to provide transit agencies with nearly $13 billion in emergency funding. We’re thrilled that so many people stepped up to save transit with such short notice. But it isn’t enough: the Senate Republicans’ stimulus bill was released yesterday, and it includes not one dollar for transit or Amtrak. 

We need you to step up for public transportation. Please call and email your members of Congress today. Demand them to support emergency funding for transit. 


Without federal financial assistance, many transit agencies and paratransit service providers will be forced to dramatically reduce or eliminate critical service. This could cut off health care and other workers from jobs, and make it even harder for the economy to recover once this crisis subsides. 

Please take action today. Transit needs you.