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August 7, 2020

METRO gets $20M CARES Act grant

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Santa Cruz METRO received a $20,560,417 federal grant on July 9 to help deal with the coronavirus crisis. 

The money comes from the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which directs the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

The funds target operating expenses, including reimbursement for operating costs, lost revenue, the purchase of personal protective equipment, and paying the administrative leave of personnel due to reduced service.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on public transit ridership and infrastructure across the Central Coast,” Congressman Jimmy Panetta said Tuesday in a press release. “This CARES Act grant will help the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District support agency operations and purchase personal protective equipment to keep its essential workers and valuable customers safe.  Such grants can preserve good-paying jobs and ensure that families and workers are safe as they endure the pandemic and eventually return to work and school.”

Mike Rotkin, METRO Board Chair, said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused METRO significant revenue losses through local sales tax revenue, farebox revenue and state funding. He said the grant will offset lost revenue for the “short-term.”

“Thankfully due to the CARES Act, METRO will be able to remain stable for the next few months, avoiding (for now) major service reductions and layoffs/furloughs,” he said. 

The funding stems from the Urbanized Area Formula Funding program that makes federal resources available to urbanized areas and to governors for transit capital and operating assistance in areas and for transportation-related planning.  An urbanized area is an incorporated area with a population of 50,000 or more. 

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