Learn how innovation and speed helped Oregon receive federal grants for public transportation
SALEM – When ODOT Public Transportation heard the federal COVID-19 financial assistance package was approved, team members jumped into action – so fast, in fact, that Oregon became the first state in the region to put more than $42 million to use helping public transportation providers across the state.
“Our team’s passion for helping fellow Oregonians as we move through this pandemic together is incredible,” said Karyn Criswell, Public Transportation Division administrator. “Our team closely followed the federal legislative process and was able to act quickly once the CARES Act was enacted.”
ODOT received $42.7 million under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on April 2. The team quickly developed an innovative distribution process, in record time, that includes both routine maintenance and needs-based applications.
“This new method is ensuring that emergency COVID-19 funds reach those providers most impacted as the pandemic continues to unfold,” Criswell said.
The CARES grants will provide funding for rural and intercity transit operations throughout the state. Funds can be used for expenses related to preventing, preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 virus, such as operating costs to maintain service and purchase personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies.
Criswell said that because of the team’s close partnerships with transit providers across Oregon, staff understands the providers’ daily struggles to keep their employees safe while also helping people get to essential jobs and services.
“I am incredibly proud of how this team has come together yet again to expedite distribution of these much-needed emergency funds,” she said. “I think the Public Transportation Division exemplifies the best of what it means to be a public servant: dedicated, creative, flexible and sharply focused on the public good.”