The Federal Transit Administration announced this week the award of $440,000 to Portland Streetcar as part of the Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program. Portland Streetcar and the Portland Bureau of Transportation submitted a proposal in Fall 2020 to fund measures to keep streetcars safer and provide better communication of public health guidelines to riders.
The proposal comprised three main elements:
- Replace cloth seat covers with nonporous, easy-to-sanitize vinyl;
- Install new, more variable message boards at streetcar stops to allow for more information to be communicated to riders; and
- Hire additional staff trained in current public health guidance to ensure vehicles are properly sanitized and staff are adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Funding totaling $15.8 million was allocated to 37 projects across the country to support strategies that develop, deploy and demonstrate solutions that improve the operational efficiency of transit agencies and enhance rider mobility during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The federal award announcement comes as Oregonians await widespread rollout of COVID-19 vaccination and must remain vigilant in social distancing, wearing face coverings and otherwise working to prevent the spread of illness. Portland Streetcar riders are still required to wear masks on board and are asked to limit travel to only essential trips.