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Seattle transit, Elaine Chao
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Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao on the millions in funding going to WA

(SDOT)

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a public health crisis, it’s also impacting the transportation sector, including air, surface, rail, and transit. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss how the CARES Act will help Washington state.

“The CARES Act, which the President signed two Fridays ago … it basically meets payroll, it keeps these airports operational. … More than $310 million in economic assistance will go to 62 airports across the state, including $192 million to Sea-Tac International Airport and then $18 million for the King County International Airport,” she said.

Chao said Washington state will receive much of the $25 million in the CARES Act for transit systems as well, with approximately $538 million in funding to be distributed to King County Metro, Sound Transit, Washington State Ferries. and smaller systems, including Community Transit. The state will also get millions for rural areas as well.

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“So the whole purpose is we’ve got to keep our transportation system operational and safe because we’re going to get through this very, very tough period.” Chao said. “And when we do, the transit system, the airline industry, they’re going to be essential to restoring normalcy in our lives.”

As Jason noted, on the one hand, we need buses to help front line workers and essential employees actually get to their jobs, but buses are not getting cleaned after each person gets on and off a bus, which is not practical. We’ve also got a large homeless population that doesn’t have access to the same consistent soap and water routines or hand sanitizer who are now riding for free.

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And there is concern that people who are asymptomatic are spreading the coronavirus on buses. So how how does the department of transportation decide whether or not they recommend public transit?

“They need to interact and coordinate — which I’m sure they do — with their local public health authorities,” she said. “I do know that the transit agencies are cleaning the buses more frequently than they ever have before.”

“But nevertheless, we individually all have to be careful. Keep a safe distance, be careful what you touch, if you have gloves, wear gloves,” Chao said. “Hopefully the money that we are giving to the transit agencies, they’re being also used for some public health safety as well.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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