These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to clarify the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. Grantees and subgrantees should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.
Coronavirus Relief Fund for States, Tribal Governments, and Certain Eligible Local Governments U.S. Treasury
The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is re-publishing in final form the guidance it previously made available on its website regarding the Coronavirus Relief Fund for States, tribal governments, and certain eligible local governments. The relevant copy of the Federal Register is located here.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) Department of Transportations
Q1: Are all expenses normally eligible under the Urbanized Area Formula Program (49 USC 5307), the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and People with Disabilities Program (49 U.S.C. § 5310), and the Formula Grants for Rural Area Program (49 USC 5311) eligible under the CARES Act and CRRSAA?
A: Yes, the CARES Act and CRRSAA provide funds to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19; both the CARES Act and CRRSAA provide funds for expenses eligible under Sections 5307 and 5311, but only CRRSAA provides funds for expenses eligible under Section 5310. FTA generally will consider all expenses normally eligible under the Section 5307, 5310, and 5311 programs that are incurred on or after January 20, 2020, to be in response to economic or other conditions caused by COVID-19 thus eligible under the CARES Act and CRRSAA, as applicable.
The CRRSAA requires that all CARES Act funds that remain unobligated as of December 27, 2020, as well as all CRRSAA funds, shall, to the maximum extent possible, be directed to payroll and operations of public transit (including payroll and expenses of private providers of public transportation), unless the recipient certifies to FTA that the recipient has not furloughed any employees. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that payments of CARES Act and CRRSAA funds to sub-recipients are consistent with this requirement. See also CA32 regarding private provider sub-recipients. CARES Act and CRRSAA funds are available for operating expenses for all FTA Section 5307, 5310, and 5311 recipients, including those in large urban areas and including administrative leave for transit workers.
Q2: What is eligible as an operating expense?
A: Funds available under the CARES Act and CRRSAA are available for all operating activities (net-fare revenues) that occur on or after January 20, 2020. Both the CARES Act and CRRSAA provide funds for eligible expenses under Sections 5307 and 5311, but only CRRSAA provides funds for eligible expenses under Section 5310.
In general, operating expenses are those costs necessary to operate, maintain, and manage public transportation within a system. Operating expenses usually include such costs as driver salaries, fuel, and items having a useful life of less than one year, including personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. See Chapter IV of the Urbanized Area Formula Program circular, Chapter III of the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program circular, or Chapter III of the Formula Grants for Rural Areas circular for more information on eligible operating expenses.
Q3: Are states and designated recipients required to adhere to existing FTA-approved State Management Plans to allocate CARES Act and CRRSAA funding within the State or service area?
A: No. States and designated recipients have the flexibility to allocate CARES Act and CRRSAA funding through a different process than the one described in a previously approved State Management Plan, without prior FTA approval. States should document any deviations in an attachment to the CARES Act or CRRSAA funding application. Requirements for fair and equitable distribution and intercity bus consultation under 49 U.S.C. § 5311(f) apply to CARES Act funds. Discussions of an intercity bus consultation requirement do not apply to CRRSAA funds.