An Umpqua Transit bus heads toward downtown Roseburg in July 2019.

The Umpqua Public Transportation District will receive close to half a million dollars in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio announced this week.

District Manager Cheryl Cheas said in an email Tuesday the funding would cover four types of expenses related to response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those include operating costs necessary to maintain transportation services, replacing lost revenue due to the crisis, purchasing personal protective equipment, and paying salaries for employees placed on administrative leave.

“This funding will help with continued operations and provide relief through the end of the year,” she said.

Cheas anticipates the transportation district will be able to continue with plans for extended bus services in July, so long as the governor’s stay at home order is not extended.

The $487,333 grant the transit district will receive is part of a larger $37 million increase in transit funding for transportation services in DeFazio’s Southwest Oregon district, the congressman said in a press release.

DeFazio, who is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said reliable transit systems are more critical than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These funds will keep our rural communities’ transit systems open and accessible, allowing our essential workers to commute to work and preserving access to health care,” DeFazio said.

“The one-two punch of reduced ridership and declining tax revenues resulting from social distancing have decimated transit budgets nationwide. This funding will allow vital services to remain open and protect the wages of transit workers who are on the front lines of the epidemic,” DeFazio said.

He said the country owes a debt of gratitude to those keeping transportation systems running, at risk to their own health.

The majority of the funding goes to the Lane Transit District, and the cities of Albany and Corvallis. The rest is split between smaller cities and transportation districts.

Umpqua Public Transportation District, formerly known as Douglas County Transportation District, is an independent district run by an elected board of directors. It operates the U-Trans bus system and Dial-a-Ride services around Douglas County.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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