U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces $5.4 Million to Combat Human Trafficking and Improve Safety on Public Transit
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced $5.4 million in grant selections as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative at an event at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters. Twenty-four organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. A list of the selected projects is available online.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with our public and private partners to fight human trafficking on America’s transportation system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting millions of adults and children in the United States and worldwide. Traffickers move their victims on all modes of transportation, and sometimes use public transit due to its low cost, greater anonymity in buying fare cards, and less direct interaction with government or transit officials.
"The funding announced today will empower transit agencies and other organizations to develop local solutions to address human trafficking on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. "Our goal is to build awareness among all transit operators and the traveling public to enable them to recognize and report potential instances of human trafficking."
Below are examples of selected projects. The total funding for the projects includes $4 million in funding announced earlier this year as well as an additional $1.4 million.
- The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will receive $350,000 to launch an awareness campaign that will include rider education on how to report suspected human trafficking activity as well as increased employee training on human trafficking. Home to Silicon Valley, Santa Clara is vulnerable to an increase in human trafficking and other crimes given its location near international travel hubs including air, sea and rail and a rapidly growing population.
- The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in Georgia will receive $352,000 to install communications equipment on buses linked to dispatchers at the transit maintenance center, allowing for live monitoring of the bus driver and their surroundings. Gwinnett County Transit operates seven local bus routes and five express routes in the northeast metro Atlanta region, carrying approximately 1.5 million riders annually.
- The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) will receive $242,677 to improve existing educational materials for transit agencies on human trafficking, operator assault, and public safety, and develop new learning tools. CTAA is a national association of public, nonprofit, and private transportation and mobility management providers.
FTA’s Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative supports USDOT’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative. The Department’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders. For more information about federal government efforts to fight human trafficking, click here.