U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the allocation of nearly $390 million in FY 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act funds to reimburse the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. (PATH). The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) received a smaller reimbursement for expenses incurred while preparing for and recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act authorized a total of $10.9 billion, which is now reduced by 5 percent, or $545 million, because of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration that took effect on March 1.
"When Hurricane Sandy devastated public transportation systems in New York and New Jersey, President Obama pledged to act swiftly to help restore service for millions of riders and help the region's transit agencies recover economically," said Secretary LaHood. "The funds allocated today will offset the emergency expenditures these agencies incurred while taking heroic measures to protect people and equipment and return to normal operations."
The funds are the first to be allocated as part of the disaster relief package enacted on January 29, 2013, for the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program, which allows FTA to make grants for eligible public transportation capital and operating costs in the event of a federally declared disaster. Up to $2 billion of this aid must be made available no later than March 30, 2013. Additional requests for reimbursement will be reviewed on a rolling basis and FTA will announce new funding allocations in the coming days.
"These emergency relief funds are rapidly reimbursing the impacted transit systems following the greatest transit disaster in our nation's history. At the height of the storm, more than 40 percent of our nation's transit service was suspended." said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "The sooner we reimburse transit systems for the measures taken to minimize the damage and re-establish service, the sooner they can focus on long-term plans to strengthen transit infrastructure and protect against future disasters."
The $390 million allocated today will reimburse for labor, materials, and capital costs incurred to protect vehicles, facilities, and infrastructure; conduct emergency operations, including temporary transit service; and make immediate and permanent repairs, as follows:
The New York MTA is receiving $193,136,983 for repair and restoration of the East River tunnels; the South Ferry/Whitehall station; the Rockaway line; rail yards, maintenance shops, and other facilities; and heavy rail cars. The funds support work by New York City Transit; the Staten Island, Long Island, and Metro-North railroads; and MTA Bus.
The PATH is receiving funds for two sets of projects: (1) $141,506,347 for efforts undertaken to address the storm's catastrophic impact on commuter rail service between New York and New Jersey (including the Hoboken-World Trade Center service and service between Hudson and Essex counties in New Jersey and Manhattan). Funds were expended to set up alternative commuter service; repair electric substations and signal infrastructure; replace and repair rolling stock; and repair maintenance facilities. (2) $54,243,826 for the World Trade Center Hub project, which was inundated by approximately 125 million gallons of tidal water. Recovery efforts included pumping; cleaning up debris; and repairing or replacing damaged and destroyed equipment, such as electrical switchgear and substation equipment.
SEPTA is receiving $1,192,568 related to securing and protecting transit service serving Philadelphia and the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery prior to the storm; emergency activities during and after the storm to resume service as quickly as possible; and enhanced customer service to communicate with the public when service was suspended or resumed.
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) authorized FTA's Emergency Relief Program, granting FTA the primary responsibility for reimbursing emergency response and recovery costs after an emergency or major disaster that affects public transportation systems. On February 6, 2013, FTA issued a notice of funding availability outlining three eligible categories of funding for which applicants affected by Hurricane Sandy could request reimbursement through the new program.