DART First State receives $55M from CARES Act
WASHINGTON – The Delaware Department of Transportation has received $55.3 million from the federal government to bolster its operational budget for public bus routes amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds, allocated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration under the authorization of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will be used to support Delaware Transit Corp. so that it doesn’t have to cut services after a decline in ridership revenue spurred by the pandemic and the state’s lockdown to try to stem its spread.
“We’re grateful for the additional funding from FTA that will allow us to maintain our operations and proceed with our planned weekend service expansions and new holiday service in New Castle County,” said John Sisson, CEO of Delaware Transit Corp., which operates the DART First State bus routes, in a statement.
DTC has reported that the pandemic would result in a budget hit of upward of $3 million this fiscal year, with ridership down roughly 70% in the pandemic and costs rising for cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for employees. The transit system also temporarily suspended fares to try to limit contact points between riders and drivers and limited the number of passengers on each bus.
Fares resumed June 1, although DART First State is encouraging riders to use its app to avoid cash transactions, and its summer beach routes are scheduled to resume June 29.
The federal funds, part of $25 billion allocated nationwide, will ensure that the revenue hit doesn’t impact DART First State’s ability to operate its fixed-route bus lines.
“We know 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,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams in a statement. “These federal funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies of all sizes providing essential travel and supporting transit workers across the country who are unable to work because of the public health emergency.”
By Jacob Owens