Big news for the Portland’s region’s main transit provider. The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced that TriMet has won a $289.1 million grant through the American Rescue Plan act.
“These funds are intended to help TriMet with preventive maintenance and capital expenses as the transit agency and the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is a press release Monday.
Here’s more from the release:
Transit has played a crucial role throughout the pandemic, bringing essential workers to jobs and helping the American people get to vaccine appointments and increasingly travel where they need to go as our nation opens back up.
“Public transportation has been a lifeline for communities and the American people throughout this pandemic,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will help protect transit employees from layoffs, keep transit service running, and ensure people can get where they need to go.”
“As our nation’s transit systems recover from COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan funds ensure that they continue to provide service to the many Americans who depend on transit to get to essential jobs, healthcare and vaccine appointments,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez.
The funding is part of more than $30 billion for public transportation as part of the ARP signed into law by President Biden back in March. Even better news for TriMet — who just announced brutal service cuts due to a driver shortage last week? The grant comes with no local match requirement.
Those service reductions were due to go into effect January 9th. It doesn’t appear this grant will stave off that step, since stipulations require it to be spent on maintenance and operations, not payroll.
TriMet ridership tanked in March 2020 with the onset of the Covid lockdowns and has come nowhere close to recovering. As you can see in the chart above, ridership across their system was at 1.9 million estimated weekly boardings in February 2020 and plummeted to just 598,000 in March 2020. It has It’s been a slow uptick ever since and it’s high point of October 2021 wasn’t even half that previous high.