Carper Hails Critical Transportation Funding in the Emergency Coronavirus Relief and Omnibus Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement on the transportation funding-related provisions included in the emergency coronavirus relief and omnibus spending package.

“Over the last several months, the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way millions of people use our nation’s infrastructure. Stay at home orders have kept millions of people off of our roads, buses and trains. Canceled travel plans have dramatically cleared our airways. These impacts to our nation’s transportation system have distressed the way we pay for our transportation system. Our nation’s infrastructure is paid for largely through user fees – tolls, motor fuel taxes, transit fares and ticket revenue, vehicle excise taxes and registration fees – and, over the course of this pandemic, all of these sources of revenue have declined dramatically. As a result, state and local highway, transit, and rail agencies have been struggling to balance their budgets and forced to consider furloughs, service cuts or canceled contracts. The impact of this pandemic on state and local budgets has been without modern precedent.

“With this new bipartisan relief package, Congress is providing some long-awaited relief to state and local budgets whose budgets have been stretched precariously thin for too long. This new package will prevent disastrous cuts to transit and rail service and will also enable states to transfer funds to their public tolling agencies, which will help those agencies avoid layoffs or other worst-case-scenario budget cuts. I’m particularly glad that this bipartisan package contains critical funding for public transit, regional airports and Amtrak. These sectors of our transportation network have been grappling with the unexpected and extraordinary decline in ridership and revenue.

“In this bipartisan relief package, Congress has also provided some long-awaited assistance to the motor coach industry. Since the start of this pandemic, the tour bus, charter bus and school bus companies that normally service 600 million people each year have seen a significant reduction in ridership due to widespread stay-at-home orders and travel cancellation. This is an industry that’s primarily comprised of small, family-owned businesses. And while employing thousands of people, these motorcoach services also provide a more affordable and environmentally-friendly travel alternative that helps to reduce congestion and improve mobility in rural and economically disadvantaged communities. In Delaware, the motorcoach industry employs hundreds of people and has an estimated $50 million direct economic impact for our state. Finally, this industry will see some of the relief it so badly needs.

“Of course, this package alone does not do nearly enough to support our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Investing in infrastructure can assist with long-term economic recovery, but if we do it right, it can do even more. It can spur economic expansion and growth. It can create millions of jobs and expand opportunity in economically disadvantaged communities. It can mitigate our country’s contribution to the climate crisis and improve connections in our communities. Over the next several months, it will be imperative for Congress to come together and make significant investments in our nation’s transportation so that we can make good on the promise of building back better and break ground on a stronger, more sustainable future.” 

The deal includes:

  • $14 billion for transit infrastructure;
  • $10 billion for highway infrastructure;
  • $2 billion for airports;
  • $2 billion for private providers of transportation services;
  • $1 billion for Amtrak; and,
  • $1 billion for airline contractor payroll support program funding.