Mass Transit - 8

Q&A with FTA Deputy
Administrator K. Jane Williams
The quick allocation of federal funding,
administrative relief, support of safety measures,
among other actions, is keeping America moving
during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
How has the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) supported the transit industry's response and recovery efforts?

Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams: FTA's commitment to the transit
industry during the COVID-19 public
health emergency helps keep America and Americans moving. FTA acted
quickly to support the transit industry
with funding, safety measures and regulatory relief, including allocating $25 billion provided through the CARES Act.
We've focused on keeping our transit
systems operational for all Americans,
including essential workers.
With safety as our top priority, FTA
issued an April Safety Advisory to assist
the transit industry in reducing the risk
of COVID-19 among transit employees
and riders. The Trump Administration
sent more than 14 million facial coverings to transit workers and riders as
part of the 100 million facial coverings
provided through the national rollout
of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
to critical sectors of America's economy,
including transportation.
FTA also identified administrative relief measures, including expanding the
federal government's share of operating
expenses and other COVID-19 related
expenses to 100 percent. This supports
enhanced cleaning and the purchase
of PPE, and allows transit systems to
partner with local agencies to provide
services like meal delivery and Wi-Fi in
underserved communities.
What has been a top priority for FTA
during the ongoing response to
COVID-19?

Williams: Safety is [USDOT Transportation]Secretary [Elaine] Chao's num-

8|

ber one priority and it guides our work every day. Proper communication with our
stakeholders has never been more important in carrying this message forward. FTA
has communicated frequently through
regular calls with the leadership of industry associations, including the American Public Transportation Association,
American Association of State Highway
Transportation Officials and Community
Transportation Association of America,
to share response and recovery strategies.
This allowed the industry to express their
concerns and prioritize solutions, such as
providing administrative relief, increasing
access to federal funding and sharing best
practices through monthly COVID-19 listening sessions.
What are some of the most compelling
stories that you've heard from transit
agencies?

Williams: Public transportation has
enabled essential workers to travel to
critical jobs but also support communities in innovative ways. For example,
Jacksonville Transportation Authority
uses autonomous vehicles to transport
COVID-19 tests to the Mayo Clinic's
Jacksonville site. Others, like Dallas Area
Rapid Transit, have partnered with organizations to ensure that people, particularly those at high risk, receive food
and access to essential services. Still
others, like VIA Metropolitan Transit
in San Antonio, Texas, have used FTA's
program flexibility to retrofit buses into
Wi-Fi hotspots to help students access the
internet during remote learning.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19
changed the transit industry?

Williams: Innovation has always

Mass Transit | MassTransitmag.com | DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021

been important to the industry, but
during the public health emergency it
has become essential. We've seen how
improved practices, such as providing
facial coverings and hand sanitizer with
no-touch dispensers, installing protective barriers for drivers and roping off
seats for social distancing, make a difference. Contactless fare payment systems and new apps provide riders with
real-time information about transit vehicle capacity are also being deployed to
improve system safety. Harnessing innovation has become a top priority for
forward-thinking transit leaders, which
will ultimately prepare transit agencies
to meet their riders' expectations.
What are your thoughts on the resiliency of the transit industry in recovering
from the public health emergency?

Williams: Every day, we see the resiliency of the transit industry and the commitment of its workers and we are grateful
for their service. Our partnership has never been more important as we continue to
keep America and its economy moving.
To learn more about FTA's COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, please visit
www.transit.dot.gov/coronavirus.
What are the latest actions FTA has taken to help transit agencies during the
public health emergency?

Williams: To ensure that transit
agencies can continue to prioritize their
resources toward ensuring the safety
of their employees and riders during
the public health emergency, FTA has
extended eligibility for them to access
emergency relief funding for operations
related to COVID-19 recovery for an
additional year. The eligibility now runs
through Jan. 20, 2022. FTA has also provided additional relief related to grant
reporting and civil rights compliance
reviews. See FTA's online FAQs updated
on December 3.


http://www.transit.dot.gov/coronavirus http://www.MassTransitmag.com

Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
People & Places
Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
A Gateway to a Quality Life
Rail Contractors: Skills Honed to Help
Transit Supplier Directory - Company Listings A-Z
Transit Supplier Directory - Product Category Listings
Products
Mass Transit - 1
Mass Transit - 2
Mass Transit - 3
Mass Transit - 4
Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - 14
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - A Gateway to a Quality Life
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - Rail Contractors: Skills Honed to Help
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - 22
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - Transit Supplier Directory - Company Listings A-Z
Mass Transit - 25
Mass Transit - 26
Mass Transit - 27
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Mass Transit - Transit Supplier Directory - Product Category Listings
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Mass Transit - Products
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