BART received $251.6 million, the first installment of $1.3 billion in funding from the Federal Transit Administration, or FTA, on Wednesday in light of the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
This funding is a result of the FTA’s $25 billion federal funding allocation to the nation’s public transportation systems during the pandemic. It is also supported by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, according to an FTA press release.
According to a BART press release, the funds will be used to maintain BART operations and to stabilize its budget during the pandemic, as regular ridership has dropped by 94%. This decrease in ridership follows a larger trend of declining ridership rates since the beginning of March.
“There is much work left to be done,” said Bob Powers, BART general manager, in a press release. “Future installments of the CARES Act will be needed in the short term to address the new reality of low ridership and the costs associated with responding to the pandemic.”
Additionally, funds will go toward supporting BART employees by helping them stay safe, healthy and employed, according to the press release.
BART is currently operating with a few changes due to the pandemic, according to the BART website. Face coverings will now be mandatory, trains will run at 30-minute intervals during the week and BART’s hours will end at 9 p.m. on a daily basis.
The BART press release added that operations will be “tied” in the Bay Area’s economic recovery after the shelter-in-place order ends, as BART provides transportation for workers.
“We must approach our service and budget planning in a way that allows us to easily scale up when demand begins to grow,” Powers said in a press release. “We also can’t lose sight of our clean air goals and transit’s role in providing reliable transportation for our transit dependent riders, seniors, workers with long commutes and lower-income communities.”