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Emergency Relief Program

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October 6, 2016: In anticipation of Hurricane Matthew making landfall along the southeast coast, FTA is advising transit agencies in the affected areas that they may request relief from certain FTA administrative and regulatory requirements for costs incurred in support of evacuations, rescue efforts, and the efficient shut down and resumption of transit services during and after the storm. Requests for relief from these requirements may be submitted to FTA’s Emergency Relief Docket at under "FTA-2016-0001-0001."

FTA also encourages transit agencies in the affected areas to become familiar with FTA’s Emergency Relief Program Manual. Should funding be made available by Congress through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program, or at FEMA’s direction, FTA will work with agencies to assess the impacts of the storm, including emergency operations and any potential damages to transit rolling stock or facilities.

Finally, FTA advises transit agencies to work closely with FEMA throughout the emergency preparation and response period. Until and unless funding is made available for the FTA Emergency Relief Program, agencies are advised to follow FEMA procedures to obtain federal disaster relief assistance.


FTA’s Emergency Relief program was established under MAP-21, and enables FTA to provide assistance to public transit operators in the aftermath of an emergency or major disaster.

This 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) (PDF). 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.

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