SAN ANTONIO – Congress has approved a new stimulus plan.
Along with direct payments to individuals and more unemployment assistance, it provides billions in spending to help the transportation sector deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, the package includes $2 billion for airports and another $14 billion for public transit, as well as new money for state departments of transportation to make up for lost revenue.
San Antonio International Airport has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic on air travel. The decline in air travel this year has led to a ripple effect, as fewer passengers means less revenue for the airport.
At the same time, they’ve had to spend more on things like sanitization procedures and new signage for social distancing.
Under the CARES ACT passed in the spring, San Antonio International Airport was allocated close to $40 million in the first stimulus package, with lesser amounts for Kelly Field and Stimson Airport.
That’s helped sustain operations this year, but more help is needed over the long term, according to Director of Airports Jesus Saenz.
“We’re very concerned, obviously as everyone is, but we encourage everyone to continue be safe in their practices,” Saenz said. “And these types of initiatives and assistance will certainly … help us carry over into 2021.”
He said the latest bill also provides money that would allow airports to help concessions companies, the ones who provide food and retail services at airports. Many of those employees have seen layoffs, furloughs and reduced hours.
The CARES Act allocated $93 million to Via Metropolitan Transit, which was among the many transit agencies impacted by declines in ridership and tax revenue.
“These funds were used to help offset added expenses, such as wages to sustain staff, supplies and equipment as well as recover lost revenue from plunging sales tax collections and VIA’s fare-relief program,” the agency said in a statement. “Additional funds would be used according to specifications in the bill, which would likely include investments in public transit to assist in recovery.”
The bill also includes $1 billion for Amtrak and $2 billion for the bus and motorcoach industry.
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