The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) is offering up $10 million in funding to research how COVID-19 spreads on public transit.

According to an Oct. 8 post on the Federal Register, the funding is intended for research to identify solutions to address the operational challenges that transit agencies are facing as a result of COVID-19. The FTA is seeking proposals from both urban and rural public transit agencies. Funding will be used to “develop, deploy, and demonstrate innovative solutions that improve the operational efficiency of transit agencies, as well as enhance the mobility of transit users affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

Specifically, funding will be targeting four areas for innovation: vehicle, facility, equipment, and infrastructure cleaning and disinfection; exposure mitigation measures; innovative mobility such as contactless payments; and measures that strengthen public confidence in transit services. Among other criteria, projects will be evaluated on their ability to integrate with existing public transit systems and scale nationwide.

While state, local, and tribal governments are eligible for grants, a handful of states won’t be able to receive funding. The Federal Register post notes that the FTA will follow guidance from a Sept. 2 White House memorandum – Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds that Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities – as well as guidance from Office of Management and Budget and the Attorney General. The memorandum specifically lists Seattle; Portland, Ore.; New York City; and Washington, D.C. However, the memo does note that the Attorney General can add additional localities to the list.

According to the FTA, researchers will have 24 months to complete their projects. The Federal Register posting also explains that an independent outside entity will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the success or failure of the projects funded and evaluate all plans for broad-based implementation of the innovation promoted by successful projects.

Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The FTA does not list when it plans to begin awarding grants.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs