Honolulu is slated to receive almost $91 million in federal funding to help keep public transit running amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those dollars are part of a $25 billion package that looks to help transportation systems around the country respond to the growing crisis. They’ll come from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES.

Around the U.S., public transit systems continue to run — many of them on reduced schedules — as most riders stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Overall, Hawaii is slated to receive $107 million to help assist transit systems across the islands, according to U.S. Rep. Ed Case’s office.

TheBus at Ala Moana Center. Sign reads, ‘Stay home when sick’ due to Coronavirus concerns. March 2020.
TheBus is still running despite low ridership due to stay-at-home orders. Federal funding is in the works to help pay costs. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

It’s not immediately clear how the city will use its federal grant funding — Department of Transportation Services spokesman Travis Ota said the agency is still incurring costs so it doesn’t yet have clear estimates.

Generally, however, dollars are meant to cover capital and operating costs, plus other expenses eligible under COVID-19 related programs, according to a Federal Transit Administration release.

TheBus had seen a 65% ridership decrease as of last week. Handi-Van trips have plummeted as well.

TheBus is now operating on a reduced schedule that largely mirrors holiday hours in order to handle essential trips for riders who still depend on it. Transit officials say they’re trying to keep enough buses on the roads to allow passengers and drivers to practice social distancing.

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