Coalition for Smarter Growth advocates for emergency transit funding

Virginia

While transit agencies were funded through the CARES Act, that funding will only last through September.

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — A Washington-based organization says the HEALS Act, the newest stimulus package introduced by the Senate, is missing a big chunk of funding. The Coalition for Smarter Growth, which serves Maryland and Virginia, says transit agencies across the country need a total of $32 billion in emergency funding to recover from the pandemic. 

The coalition says transit agencies need to make up for lost fare revenue, maintain service, and sanitize for workers and riders. Many local bus companies, like DASH, Ride On Montgomery, and ART, have offered free rides during the pandemic. While transit agencies were funded through the CARES Act, that funding will only last through September. While Congress boosts the economy, by helping tenants pay their rent and homeowners pay their mortgages, Executive Director Stewart Schwartz says keeping people employed — to pay those bills — is dependent on the transit network. 

“A huge proportion of our national economy, our GDP, is coming from our metropolitan areas that cannot function without transit. You can imagine, if every person in the DC area drove, or Baltimore, or Richmond, we would see an absolute traffic armageddon when everybody returned to work,” Schwartz said. “So we’ve got to keep the transit system running and have it able to ramp up.” 

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