WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today announced that the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the largest transit union in North America, has endorsed his bipartisan $500 billion SMART Fund that will provide states and localities with the robust, flexible federal funding in order to keep essential services running, such as public transportation. Leaders across New Jersey and the country have pleaded with the federal government for assistance in order to avoid layoffs and cuts to public services.
“Our dedicated transit workers are putting themselves at greater risk on the frontlines of the pandemic to ensure our doctors and nurses show up to treat patients and our grocery clerks and warehouse staff get to work to keep our food and supply chain going,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our trains and buses keep our people and economy moving. If we don’t provide states, counties and municipalities with federal assistance, we risk grinding our nation’s transit system and economy to a halt. That only hampers our ability to reopen and jumpstart our economy. I appreciate the support of ATU International President John Costa and all the members of ATU on this critical bill, which will ultimately save jobs, protect our transit system and fuel our economic recovery.”
“Our members have been risking their lives every single day during this pandemic making sure people have safe and reliable transportation,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Even as states reopen, we know that people will be scared to get back on board the bus and federal aid will be critical to keep transit systems running. None of our members deserve to be laid off after working on the frontlines keeping our nation moving. I thank Senator Menendez for his bipartisan bill that will provide states and local governments with the infusion they need to keep our transit systems running and protect the jobs of our workers. I urge Congress to come together and swiftly pass this bill.”
ATU has over 200,000 members from across the U.S. and Canada, including bus drivers, train and ferry operators, mechanics, and other transit workers. There are more than 8,000 ATU members in New Jersey alone.
The State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Fund, which is co-authored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), builds upon the existing $150 billion set aside in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help states and local governments. It increases flexibility for states and local governments to use the funds to plug revenue losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and targets additional funding toward coronavirus hot zones to combat the pandemic head-on.
Specifically, the SMART Fund, which falls in line with requests made by the National Governors Association, would deliver funding to state and local governments, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in three equal tranches based upon a new formula that takes into consideration areas of the country with the greatest need: