AASHTO seeks funding to address transit revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19

March 24, 2020

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is seeking Congressional support for the creation of a fiscal “backstop” for the transportation sector due to the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

AASHTO sent a three-page letter to Congressional leaders on March 18. An excerpt of that letter reads as follows:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

As the organization representing all 50 state departments of transportation (state DOTs), the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) urges Congress for an immediate and temporary nationwide waiver of federal truck weight restrictions, which will provide states with maximum flexibility and discretion to manage interstate transportation of emergency supplies in combating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition, we request $16.7 billion in supplemental federal transportation funding to backstop state revenue shortfalls expected due to COVID-19.

The letter mentions that "In the near term, all modes of transportation—air, highway, transit, rail, and water—are anticipated to face steep declines in user fee and tax revenues due to COVID-19."

The letter also urges Congress to dedicate funding to ensure operational continuity and investment in America's state-supported passenger rail network. 

"Twenty-one public agencies in 18 states across the United States are responsible for 29 passenger rail routes serviced by Amtrak," the letter says. "States, an entity designated by a state, and Amtrak should be provided federal funding support to offset a variety of costs associated with the loss of revenue and ridership and the increased costs associated with limiting operations and the protection of passenger rail workforce and customers. AASHTO supports Amtrak’s emergency request for $978 million, which includes $200 million to help offset losses on state-supported routes.