Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Transit Systems To Receive $59 Million From New Bailout Bill

MCTS will receive most of the funding.

By - Dec 23rd, 2020 04:12 pm
Essential trips only on MCTS buses. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Essential trips only on MCTS buses. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An analysis of the new COVID-19 relief bill shows that the Milwaukee area mass transit systems are poised to receive $59.5 million in federal aid.

The funds would come from a $13.2 billion allocation within the $900 billion bill.

“This will buy agencies critical time and should stave off transit cuts for the immediate future,” said TransitCenter in releasing its preliminary analysis. “To fully bridge the COVID budget gap, however, further rounds of funding would need to be secured from federal, state, or local sources.”

Transit ridership has been decimated by the pandemic, creating financial gaps in transit systems that are particularly dependent on farebox revenue.

The funds will be divided between Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, with the vast majority going towards the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). The funds support fixed-route, paratransit and shared-ride taxi systems operated in each of the counties.

MCTS has a $159.9 million budget in 2020. It was projected to recover 22.8% of its fixed-route costs from rider fares.

The original CARES Act allocation sent $62.4 million in transit aid to the Milwaukee region, alleviating the need for any cuts in the short run. But regions with larger systems that rely on a greater amount of farebox revenue, including Milwaukee to a lesser extent, struggled with the first funding formula.

The new formula attempts to allocate the funds more equitably by instituting a cap based on 2018 operating costs. Milwaukee will receive an extra $23 million before hitting the 75% cap.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) oversees the funding allocations within the region.

The CARES Act division included a small amount of funding for The Hop, which wasn’t slated to start receiving federal formula grants until 2021.

The Madison area is slated to receive $14.9 million according to TransitCenter.

There could be one snag in getting the funds. President Donald Trump is considering vetoing the bill.

If the bill is signed into law, the Federal Transit Administration will make the final determinations on regional allocations.

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Categories: Transportation

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