Transit Agencies, Airports Spent Another $2.6 Billion of CARES Act Funding in August

Transit Agencies, Airports Spent Another $2.6 Billion of CARES Act Funding in August

October 09, 2020  | Jeff Davis

U.S. mass transit providers and airport sponsors collectively spent another $2.6 billion of their $35 billion in special COVID-19 aid in August, according to new reporting from the Office of Management and Budget at usaspending.gov. The $35 billion was appropriated by the CARES Act in March 2020. An additional $9.9 billion of the money had been spent prior to August, and this leaves $22.5 billion unspent as of August 31.

(Meanwhile, all major passenger airlines had spent the entirety of their CARES Act payroll support grants by July 31.)

Transit. As of August 31, mass transit providers had spent 41 percent ($10.2 billion) of the $25.0 billion CARES Act appropriation, but there is a world of difference between the spending rates of large providers versus smaller providers.

The 35 biggest providers (the transit agencies that got CARES grants of $100 million or more) collectively received $15.2 billion under CARES, and as of August 31 they had spent $8.4 billion of that total, or 55 percent.

All of the other mass transit providers in the U.S. (and there are thousands of them) are collectively entitled to $9.7 billion from the CARES Act, but as of August 31, only $7.7 billion of that had been claimed ($2.0 billion was still unobligated). Of that overall total, only $1.9 billion had been spent by August 31, meaning that only 19 percent of the funding for transit providers outside the top 35 had been spent by that point.

Even among the 35 largest providers, there are wide disparities in the spending rates. The New York City, Houston, and Santa Clara providers spent 100 percent of their CARES Act money by August 31. Los Angeles (L.A. Metro), Seattle (King County), Cleveland and Austin had each spent over 80 percent of their money by that date.

New York City is far and away the largest U.S. transit provider. But New Jersey Transit, just across the river, is second, and as of August 31, they had only spent 34 percent of their CARES grant, just like the third-largest provider (WMATA) had only spent 35 percent. Other providers (Maryland statewide, Minneapolis, San Diego, Phoenix, Florida statewide, Sacramento) had spent less than ten percent of their CARES funding by August 31.

Many providers may have plans to use their CARES grants at a steady pace throughout fiscal year 2021.

The overall spendout rate for the account as of August 31 was 41 percent.

CARES Act Mass Transit Funding Grant Obligation and Outlay Rates As of August 31, 2020

Millions of dollars. Source: usaspending.gov
Agreement Outlaid Outlaid Outlaid Percent
Metro Area Provider Date Obligated by July 31 in August by Aug. 31 Unspent Spent
New York City MTA May 8 $4,009.5 $3,604.8 $404.7 $4,009.5 $0.0 100%
New Jersey NJT May 15 $1,423.5 $360.8 $125.0 $485.8 $937.8 34%
DC Area WMATA May 19 $876.8 $221.0 $85.3 $306.3 $570.5 35%
Los Angeles LACMTA July 27 $861.9 $595.8 $177.8 $773.5 $88.4 90%
Boston MBTA May 8 $827.7 $282.3 $132.7 $415.0 $412.7 50%
Chicago CTA May 15 $817.5 $135.7 $55.3 $191.0 $626.4 23%
Philadelphia SEPTA June 3 $644.3 $65.0 $10.6 $75.6 $568.7 12%
Chicago Metra May 12 $479.2 $111.2 $0.0 $111.2 $368.0 23%
Maryland Statewide MDOT July 29 $392.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $392.0 0%
San Francisco BART May 19 $377.1 $96.1 $44.0 $140.1 $237.0 37%
San Francisco Muni May 19 $373.8 $197.2 $0.0 $197.2 $176.6 53%
Atlanta MARTA June 29 $298.6 $82.7 $0.0 $82.7 $216.0 28%
Houston MTA May 5 $248.8 $248.8 $0.0 $248.8 $0.0 100%
Seattle King Co. June 29 $243.7 $198.0 $0.0 $198.0 $45.7 81%
Denver RTD May 12 $232.3 $105.7 $18.7 $124.4 $107.8 54%
Minneapolis Met Council May 29 $226.5 $0.0 $12.9 $12.9 $213.6 6%
Miami-Dade M-D County July 10 $222.6 $69.3 $25.3 $94.6 $128.0 42%
San Diego MTS June 10 $220.0 $17.9 $0.0 $17.9 $202.1 8%
Connecticut State. CDOT June 30 $206.0 ?? ?? $33.8 $172.2 16%
Phoenix City May 6 $188.4 $6.7 $2.7 $9.5 $178.9 5%
Salt Lake City UTA June 9 $187.2 $39.1 $7.5 $46.6 $140.6 25%
Portland Tri-Met May 19 $184.9 $85.4 $0.0 $85.4 $99.5 46%
Los Angeles Metrolink July 27 $170.6 $0.0 $77.9 $77.9 $92.6 46%
Seattle Sound Transit May 19 $166.3 $93.1 $24.1 $117.2 $49.1 70%
Orange County OCTA July 7 $160.4 $31.4 $0.0 $31.4 $129.1 20%
St. Louis BDA May 15 $142.4 $20.6 $0.0 $20.6 $121.8 14%
Pittsburgh Port Auth. June 9 $141.7 $0.0 $27.5 $27.5 $114.2 19%
Santa Clara VTA May 12 $140.6 ?? ?? $140.6 $0.0 100%
Alameda AC Transit June 20 $114.2 ?? ?? $50.3 $63.9 44%
Chicago Pace June 3 $112.8 $19.8 $0.2 $19.9 $92.8 18%
Las Vegas RTC May 15 $112.3 $46.2 $2.3 $48.5 $63.8 43%
Cleveland RTA May 5 $112.0 $73.7 $17.3 $91.1 $20.9 81%
Florida Statewide FDOT July 10 $103.4 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $103.4 0%
Austin Capital MTA May 13 $101.9 $75.1 $13.7 $88.8 $13.1 87%
Sacramento SRTD July 10 $100.1 $0.0 $7.9 $7.9 $92.2 8%
Total, Providers Over $100m in CARES Grants $15,220.8 $6,883.3 $1,498.1 $8,381.4 $6,839.4 55%
Other Providers w/ Obligations As Of Aug. 31 $7,708.1 $1,402.8 $448.3 $1,851.2 $5,856.9 24%
Total CARES Act As Of Aug. 31 $22,928.9 $8,286.1 $1,946.4 $10,232.6 $12,696.4 45%
CARES Not Yet Obligated As Of Aug. 31 $2,071.1 $2,071.1
TOTAL CARES APPROPRIATION $25,000.0 $14,767.4 41%

Airports. The distinction between large airports and smaller airports is not as noticeable in the spending rate for the $10 billion in CARES Act airport grants, but it’s still there. The 20 largest airport sponsors collectively received 43 percent of the $10 billion ($4.3 billion), and as of August 31 they had spent $1.3 billion, or 30 percent of their total awards.

The rest of the nation’s airport sponsors are collectively entitled to $5.7 billion from the CARES Act, and as of August 31, they had only laid claim to $4.6 billion of that (obligations), and they had only actually spent $908 million, or 16 percent of their total grant awards.

After a slow start, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (sponsor of the major NYC-area airports) spent half of their CARES award, which accounts for over one-third of the total CARES airport spending recorded in August. But it is important to remember that many large airports intend to spend their CARES money on debt service, so that spending has to wait until the scheduled due dates for interest and debt payments.

The overall spendout rate for the account as of August 31 was 22 percent.

CARES Act Airport Funding Grant Obligations and Outlay Rates As of August 31, 2020

Millions of dollars. Source: usaspending.gov
Agreement Outlaid Outlaid Outlaid Percent
Date Obligated by July 31 in August by Aug. 31 Unspent Spent
JFK, La Guardia, Newark June 11 $450.4 $0.0 $220.5 $220.5 $230.0 49%
Atlanta May 8 $338.5 $80.9 $0.0 $80.9 $257.7 24%
Los Angeles Area Airports May 26 $323.6 $52.4 $0.0 $52.4 $271.2 16%
Dallas – Ft. Worth May 11 $250.0 $144.1 $0.0 $144.1 $105.9 58%
O’Hare May 14 $294.4 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $294.4 0%
Denver April 28 $269.1 $129.8 $0.0 $129.8 $139.3 48%
San Francisco June 17 $254.8 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $254.8 0%
DC airports May 18 $229.1 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $229.1 0%
Miami May 11 $207.2 $133.1 $22.8 $155.9 $51.3 75%
Las Vegas May 15 $195.8 $43.3 $26.5 $69.8 $126.0 36%
Sea-Tac May 3 $192.1 $74.7 $0.0 $74.7 $117.4 39%
Orlando May 12 $170.8 $0.0 $0.5 $0.5 $170.3 0%
Houston June 22 $149.2 $8.1 $0.0 $8.1 $141.1 5%
Phoenix May 6 $147.9 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $147.9 0%
Boston May 14 $143.7 $53.3 $9.5 $62.8 $80.9 44%
Detroit May 5 $141.9 $26.7 $32.0 $58.7 $83.2 41%
Charlotte June 2 $135.6 $0.0 $4.5 $4.5 $131.1 3%
Ft. Lauderdale May 11 $135.0 $70.2 $23.6 $93.8 $41.2 69%
Hawaii Airports May 3 $133.3 $14.0 $36.0 $50.0 $83.3 37%
Philadelphia May 13 $116.3 $78.9 $0.0 $78.8 $37.4 68%
Total, Providers Over $100m in CARES Grants $4,278.8 $909.4 $375.8 $1,285.2 $2,993.6 30%
Other Providers w/ Obligations As Of Aug. 31 $4,601.2 $673.5 $234.3 $907.8 $3,693.4 20%
Total CARES Act As Of Aug. 31 $8,880.0 $1,582.8 $610.1 $2,193.0 $6,687.0 25%
CARES Not Yet Obligated As Of Aug. 31 $1,120.0 $1,120.0
TOTAL CARES APPROPRIATION $10,000.0 $7,807.0 22%
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