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Emergency Relief Program

What's New

  • During hurricane season, FTA remains prepared to help transit agencies in affected areas provide rescue, recovery and transport services. In addition, FTA can waive certain regulations following any presidential emergency declaration. 

  • On May 31, 2018, FTA announced $277.5 million in Emergency Relief Program allocations for states and territories affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Approximately $232.3 million will be dedicated to response, recovery, and rebuilding projects, with $44.2 million going toward resiliency projects. Grant funds will help states and territories rebuild and renew infrastructure.

Emergency Relief Program Allocation Graphic


FTA’s Emergency Relief program, established under MAP-21 legislation, enables FTA to provide assistance to public transit operators in the aftermath of an emergency or major disaster. The program helps states and public transportation systems pay for protecting, repairing, and/or replacing equipment and facilities that may suffer or have suffered serious damage as a result of an emergency, including natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. The program can fund capital projects to protect, repair, or replace facilities or equipment that are in danger of suffering serious damage, or have suffered serious damage as a result of an emergency. The program can also fund the operating costs of evacuation, rescue operations, temporary public transportation service, or reestablishing, expanding, or relocating service before, during or after an emergency.

FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual & Program Guidance 

On October 5, 2015, FTA published its final Emergency Relief Manual: A Reference Manual for States & Transit Agencies on Response and Recovery from Declared Disasters and FTA’s Emergency Relief Program (49 U.S.C. 5324). Visit the Federal Register Notice: Emergency Relief Program: Proposed Guidance.

This manual provides guidance on FTA's Emergency Relief (ER) Program and is intended for states and transit agencies that may be affected by a declared emergency or disaster and may seek funding under FTA's ER Program. In addition to guidance on the ER Program, this document provides information on other disaster relief resources available through FTA and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The manual also contains a discussion of recommended practices for disaster preparation and frequently asked questions relating to disaster recovery.

This Emergency Relief Manual revises and replaces FTA’s handbook Response and Recovery from Declared Emergencies and Disasters: A Reference for Transit Agencies, and includes responses to public comments received on the draft manual published in January 2015.

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Aid

The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 provided $10.9 billion for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program for recovery and relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. After mandatory deductions, including sequestration, approximately $10.4 billion is available to FTA for allocation to States and transit operators affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Learn more about Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief.

Annual Emergency Relief Docket

Annual emergency relief procedures allow grantees and subgrantees affected by national or regional emergencies to request temporary relief from FTA administrative and statutory requirements. The Emergency Relief Docket process allows grantees to petition FTA for relief from legislative or administrative requirements in response to emergencies or major disasters, such as hurricanes. For more information, see the 2018 Emergency Relief Docket. Under FTA’s Charter Rule, grantees and subgrantees may assist with evacuations or other movement of people in response to an emergency declared by the president, governor, or mayor for up to 45 days without notice to FTA. If such services are necessary for more than 45 days, grantees and subgrantees must submit a request for relief from the charter regulation through the Emergency Relief Docket.

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