Public Transportation team’s passion results in fast funding

Public Transportation Manager Marsha Hoskins is part of the team — all of whom are working from home — that responded in record time to get funds out around the state.

When ODOT Public Transportation heard the federal COVID-19 financial assistance package was approved, team members jumped into action – so fast, in fact, that Oregon became the first state in our region to obligate the grants: more than $42 million to help public transportation providers across the state.

“Our team’s passion for helping fellow Oregonians as we move through this pandemic together is incredible,” said Karyn Criswell, Public Transportation Division administrator. “Our team closely followed the federal legislative process and was able to act quickly once CARES was enacted.”

ODOT received notice that $42.7 million had been granted under CARES, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, on April 2. The team quickly developed an innovative distribution process, in record time, that includes both formula (regular) and needs-based considerations.

“This new method is ensuring that emergency COVID-19 funds reach those providers most impacted as the pandemic continues to unfold,” Criswell said.

The CARES grants will provide funding for rural and intercity transit operations throughout the state. Funds can be used for expenses related to preventing, preparing for, and responding to the COVID-19 virus, such as operating costs to maintain service and purchase personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies.  

Criswell said that because of our team’s close partnerships with transit providers across Oregon, staff understands the providers’ daily struggles to keep their employees safe while also helping people get to essential jobs and services.

“I am incredibly proud of how this team has come together yet again to expedite distribution of these much-needed emergency funds,” she said. “I think the Public Transportation Division exemplifies the best of what it means to be a public servant: dedicated, creative, flexible and sharply focused on the public good.”