Media Center

May 14

ATU Endorses Bipartisan SMART Fund

Bill provides states and localities $500 billion in critical, flexible funding for public transit and other essential services 

Silver Spring, MD – The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the largest transit union in North America, has endorsed the bipartisan $500 billion SMART Fund that will provide states and localities with the robust, flexible federal funding in order to keep public transit and other essential services running.

The State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Fund, co-authored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), builds upon the existing $150 billion set aside in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help states and local governments. It increases flexibility for states and local governments to use the funds to plug revenue losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and targets additional funding toward coronavirus hot zones to combat the pandemic head-on.

“Our members have been risking their lives every single day during this pandemic making sure people have safe and reliable transportation,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Even as states reopen, we know that people will be scared to get back on board the bus and federal aid will be critical to keep transit systems running. None of our members deserve to be laid off after working on the frontlines keeping our nation moving. I thank Senators Menendez and Cassidy for their bipartisan bill that will provide states and local governments with the infusion they need to keep our transit systems running and protect the jobs of our workers. I urge Congress to come together and swiftly pass this bill.”

Governors across the country have pleaded with the federal government for assistance in order to avoid layoffs and cuts in public services. Transit agencies have been hit hard as less riders has meant lowered farebox revenue and less local taxes, which funds much of the operating expenses.

“Our dedicated transit workers are putting themselves at greater risk on the frontlines of the pandemic to ensure our doctors and nurses show up to treat patients and our grocery clerks and warehouse staff get to work to keep our food and supply chain going,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our trains and buses keep our people and economy moving. If we don’t provide states, counties and municipalities with federal assistance, we risk grinding our nation’s transit system and economy to a halt. That only hampers our ability to reopen and jumpstart our economy. I appreciate the support of International President John Costa and all the members of ATU on this critical bill, which will ultimately save jobs, protect our transit system and fuel our economic recovery.” 

ATU has over 200,000 members from across the U.S. and Canada, including bus drivers, train and ferry operators, mechanics, and other transit workers. 

Specifically, the SMART Fund, which falls in line with requests made by the National Governors Association, would deliver key funding to state and local governments, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in three equal tranches based upon a new formula that takes into consideration areas of the country with the greatest needs:

  • One-third to eligible entities based on population size to ensure they each receive additional federal resources to meet their growing needs;
  • One-third to eligible entities based upon the number of COVID-19 cases relative to the U.S. population to target the urgent public health challenge; and
  • One-third to eligible entities based upon state revenue losses relative to pre-COVID-19 projections to target the urgent economic challenge.