Spokane Transit Authority is getting a $23 million lifeline in the form of emergency funding from the federal government for funding lost from the Covid virus.
The money from Congress was authorized under the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act and it comes at a good time.
Since the pandemic struck, Spokane Transit ridership has dropped by 70%. The agency stopped charging fares for passengers. That's good news for riders, but bad news for the agency's budget.
Factor in the unknown effect on Transit's main revenue source, sales taxes, and it adds up to an uncertain budget situation.
“We don't know if there will be a deficit. We anticipate there will be a deficit for 2020 spending," said STA spokesman Brandon Rapez-Betty.
“Covid-19 will push us into a recession, and recessions take time to come out of, and so agencies have to reassess future years to achieve how to live within their means. And so this money allows agencies to make big decisions," he said.
Among those decisions, how STA will proceed with its latest expansion, the “Moving Forward” plan that was approved by voters in 2016.
The STA spokesman says it will definitely take some time to see how that will play out.