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Montgomery County to Receive More Than $30 million in Federal Funding from the CARES Act to Support Public Transit Operations in Response to the COVID-19 Health Crisis

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 8, 2020

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has been designated to receive more than $30 million in Federal funding to support Ride On bus operations during and after the COVID-19 health crisis.

MCDOT worked to determine and justify the County’s share of funding from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), which will provide $25 billion to support public transportation in response to the impact, and future recovery, from the pandemic.

Through the provision of the CARES Act, the Federal government has acknowledged the extreme operational and financial burden that the pandemic is placing on the public transportation industry. The legislation also recognizes the critical importance of maintaining transit services during the health crisis for essential workers and others who rely on public systems to access basic needs such as food and healthcare.

“This is important. These are critical Federal relief funds that will bring more than $30 million of assistance to Montgomery County,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “These funds will help mitigate the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on our transit system. I want to thank the dedicated employees of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation for leading our efforts to obtain this aid. I also want to thank our regional partners, including the leadership of WMATA and the Maryland Department of Transportation for their work to distribute aid to affected jurisdictions in an equitable fashion. Additionally, I want to thank our outstanding Congressional delegation for making these funds available.”

The County’s response to COVID-19 has been extensive and has required major undertakings by planning and operational teams to develop and implement bus route and schedule changes in rapid response to changing conditions and needs. Transit needs continue to evolve and Ride On has made several adjustments to meet the needs of essential travel. The County’s current operation also focuses on serving Equity Emphasis Areas as defined by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG).

Specifically, the Federal funding assistance will help to cover operating costs for Ride On to account for:
  • Lost revenue from the elimination of fare collection since March 13 in order to limit personal interactions.
  • Implementing hazard pay for bus drivers in recognition of the critical work they perform.
  • Maintaining standby drivers on buses stationed strategically across the County who can be deployed to routes that need more coverage in order to maintain social distancing.
  • Increased cleaning and safety measures to keep riders and bus operators safe.

“Ride On continues to make adjustments as the situation evolves,” said MCDOT Division of Transit Chief Dan Hibbert. “Some bus routes that were cut at the start of our response have been added back because of identified community needs. We have increased midday service on routes that include hospitals and we continue to shift resources to routes that need more service to maintain safe levels of social distancing.”

The CARES Act allocated $1.02 billion in funding for the Washington metropolitan area, with the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) being the lead agency for funding distribution. As the second largest bus operator in the National Capital Region, Montgomery County received just over $28 million. The remainder of funding allocation will be through the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration to bring Montgomery County’s expected total public transit funding through the CARES Act to just over $30 million.

For the most up-to-date local transportation information, follow @MCDOTNow on Twitter, visit MCDOT’s transportation resource page for COVID-19, or subscribe to MCDOT news releases.

For the latest Montgomery County updates during the health crisis, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

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Release ID: 20-246
Media Contact: Hannah Henn 240-777-8389