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Facing looming revenue shortages for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic throughout the Tri-State, local transit agencies will receive emergency aid from the stimulus bill passed by Congress last week.
The Federal Transit Administration Friday unveiled $25 billion in stimulus dollars for public transportation systems across the U.S. as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, a bill designed to keep the country's economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FTA allocated $45.4 million to southwest Ohio's four public transit systems -- Cincinnati Metro, the Butler County Regional Transit Authority, the Clermont Transit Connection and the Cincinnati streetcar. The FTA granted $11.6 million to TANK, Northern Kentucky's only public transportation system.
Suballocation of the $45.4 million to the four southwest Ohio systems is determined by local processes, the FTA indicated in the materials released Friday. Those are based on population served and the level of service provided by each transit system. Based on these criteria, Metro stands to collect the vast majority of that aid.
Both Metro and TANK recently announced reductions in service and other measures they would take in response to the coronavirus. Neither bus system is collecting fares, and both are requiring passengers board through the rear door in order to reduce contact between riders and operators. As fewer and fewer daily riders were commuting to work, bus ridership plummeted, and both systems scaled back routes to weekend service levels.
Mayor John Cranley and Health Director Melba Moore this week ordered the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar closed to passenger service. The city administration is in the process of determining what level of streetcar staffing and operations to maintain during the shutdown.
More information on how the stimulus funds could help transit agencies resume closer-to-normal service levels was not immediately available.