Media Center

Sep 29

ATU applauds $32 billion for transit in updated Heroes Act, calls for critical funding for hard hit school bus and motor coach industries

Silver Spring, MD – While praising $32 billion in emergency funding for struggling public transportation systems in the updated Heroes Act, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) calls for critical funding for the school bus and motor coach industries devastated since the pandemic began.

“The ATU commends the House for including $32 billion in critical emergency funding for transit systems, but the absence of any funding for school bus and motor coach industries could be a death knell,” says ATU International President John Costa. “We call on the Senate to take immediate action to provide critical relief for working families as the pandemic continues.”

As the first round of CARES Act funding dwindles, transit systems continue to be hit hard by the pandemic as ridership has not bounced back and the local sales tax revenues that fund many systems have not rebounded. Meanwhile, motor coach and school bus companies, which received no emergency funding in the CARES Act, are on life support.

“This funding for public transportation will help save jobs as transit systems across the country are threatening layoffs – 600 at RTD in Denver, 1,700 at WMATA in Washington, DC, thousands at the MTA in New York City and others,” Costa continued. “But for our members in the school bus and motor coach industries, which have been laid off since the pandemic began, if emergency funding isn’t provided many may never work in those industries again.”

Since the pandemic began, the ATU has been at the forefront of demanding transit agencies, private contractors and elected officials to move quickly to deliver needed protections, policy changes and funding to keep transit systems running and workers safe. The ATU has lost 89 brothers and sisters to this deadly virus and thousands have been infected.

“The addition of $32 billion for transit systems in this updated bill didn’t just happen. Transit workers mobilized digitally to put pressure on elected officials while continuing to risk their lives each day to keep our communities and economies moving,” Costa said.

The ATU praised the updated House bill for ensuring worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.

In addition, restoring the unemployment insurance (UI) program will be critical for laid off workers in every industry. Under the updated Heroes Act the UI program ensures weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and prevents unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility.

The bill also provides American households with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis.

The bill also supports testing, tracing and treatment, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment.

“This updated bill will help save our members’ jobs, service for riders, and financial assistance for our families,” said Costa. “We’d like to see some relief for our school bus and motor coach members.”