Momentum: Issue #45

May 11,2020

ITS America Urges Congress to Include Transportation Priorities & Funding in Future COVID-19 Response Legislation

Today, ITS America President & CEO Shailen Bhatt sent a letter to congressional leadership expressing support for their actions to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and outlining the association’s transportation priorities as it considers the next pandemic response bill.

“Although COVID-19 is impacting every sector of the transportation industry, transportation services, providers, and workers are helping first responders, health care workers, essential workers, and people who are not able to stay at home get to where they need to go,” Bhatt wrote. “As leaders in transportation and technology, we are grateful for the support provided by Congress and the Administration. However, we also know that more assistance is urgently needed to keep the nation’s transportation system moving and safe, especially as the country begins to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic with without a vaccine but with a focus on protecting public health.”

The letter urged Congress and the Administration to include the following policies and funding in future COVID-19 legislation:

  • Provide additional assistance to keep our nation’s transportation systems solvent;
  • Allow for flexible funding to offset the loss in revenues for state, county, and city departments of transportation, transit agencies, and public authorities;
  • Maintain loan and grant programs to assist businesses and nonprofits in the transportation sector;
  • Provide states, cities, counties, transit agencies, and public authorities flexibility with federal funds to deploy technology to stop the spread of COVID-19 including:
    • Contactless payment systems and technologies that protect transit workers and passengers; and
    • Mobility on Demand services and programs such as micromobility, ridesourcing, and microtransit to connect vulnerable communities to health care and work. 
  • Maintain reductions in greenhouse gases achieved during stay at home orders by increasing investments to support vehicle electrification including vehicle infrastructure, e-cargo cycling, and micromobility;
  • Increase funding in smart infrastructure and vehicle research to prepare the nation’s transportation system for the next pandemic, the next natural disaster, or the next human-made disaster;
  • Provide flexibility to deploy lifesaving technologies to better protect pedestrians and cyclists and accelerate the deployment of biking, scootering and walking infrastructure as communities pedestrianize streets to make it easier for people to get around while socially distancing; and  
  • Reinstate the employer fringe benefits for cycling commuting, including expanding eligibility to include shared micromobility.

“We know that we cannot simply return to the transportation priorities that preceded the pandemic,” he continued. “The ability of states and cities to revive their battered economies will depend on safe and reliable transportation.

“In this unprecedented time, transportation technologies, including data, artificial intelligence, and wireless communications, are being deployed in new and unforeseen ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, reinforce critical logistics and supply chains, and improve system performance as the American economy begins to reopens. With this in mind, ITS America supports policies in the reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that significantly increase investments in research, development, and deployment of technologies to make our transportation system safer, greener, smarter, and more resilient.”