Will the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) restrict eligibility or deny applications for COVID-19 research demonstration grants if applicants are in New York City; Portland, Oregon; or Seattle?
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has raised concerns.
The October 8 Funding Opportunity Notice (NOFO) for the new $ 10 million COVID-19 public transportation research demonstration grant program says FTA will review and review applications in accordance with a memorandum from the 2 September of President Trump, in accordance with the directives of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Attorney General of the United States and with all applicable laws.
The memorandum ordered the attorney general and the director of the OMB to review federal funding for state and local government recipients that allow “lawlessness, violence and destruction” in American cities.
In response to the memorandum, on September 21, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) identified New York, Portland and Seattle as “jurisdictions which have allowed violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to take legal action. reasonable measures to combat criminal activity. . “Among the evaluation criteria: if” a jurisdiction prohibits the police forces from intervening to restore order in a context of violence or generalized or sustained destruction “or if” a jurisdiction removes responsibility or funds the police services ” The Attorney General will continue to identify these jurisdictions and update his list at least every six months.
“When state and local leaders prevent their own law enforcement officials and agencies from doing their jobs, it puts innocent citizens who deserve protection at risk, including those who attempt to rally and protest. peacefully, âAttorney General William P. Barr said. “We cannot allow federal taxpayer dollars to be wasted when the safety of citizens is at stake.”
The memorandum also ordered the director of the OMB to issue, within 30 days, guidelines ârestricting eligibility or otherwise disqualifying, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictionsâ from receiving federal grants. As of October 14, it was not clear, APTA said, whether the OMB director had issued these guidelines to heads of executive departments and agencies.
The APTA said it “strongly opposes” the inclusion of a restrictive project eligibility criterion in the FTA’s NOFO and “believes that these COVID-19 research funds should be available to all. public transport agencies “.
“These funds are essential for public transit systems, as they undertake extraordinary efforts to protect users and employees, while facing unprecedented budgetary difficulties,” said the president and CEO of the ‘APTA, Paul P. Skoutelas. âIt is inappropriate and unwarranted that criteria be considered to bar certain transit systems from receiving essential funds to support their COVID-19 response efforts. “
Age of the railway asked the FTA to comment on APTA’s concerns. An FTA spokesperson released this statement *:
âThe ministry awarded $ 25 billion in COVID-19 relief funding in a record 6 days (before the legislative deadline) to transit agencies and distributed more than 100 million face coverings for workers of transport and passengers across the country. The COVID-19 Funding Opportunity Notice (NOFO) was issued promptly so that these funds could be distributed to transport agencies as quickly as possible during this public health emergency. Presidential directives are not discretionary, in accordance with all applicable legal requirements. “
Age of the railway reported on FTA’s new COVID-19 public transportation research demonstration grant program earlier this month. The launch of the program follows requests from transit agencies for FTA to support research into operational challenges related to COVID-19.
* Editor’s comment: The FTA’s response to Railway Age’s request for comment does not address the concerns of the APTA, or any US transit agency, for that matter. He actually says nothing. What possible link could there be between COVID-19 research conducted by a transit agency and street violence in the city in which the agency operates? Withholding vital COVID-19 funds from transportation agencies in major cities that the Trump administration says allow “lawlessness” is deplorable and spurious. Paul Skoutelas is too polite in defining FTA’s actions as âinappropriate and unwarrantedâ. If the FTA wishes to respond to these comments with a real answer, we will be happy to publish it. This is not a reflection on the representatives of the FTA press, who have no choice but to follow the directives of the President of the United States and the Secretary of Transportation, whether they are or not agree with these guidelines.. – William C. Vantuono