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Regional transit authority can use funds to cover salaries, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

COURTESY PHOTO: TRIMET - TriMet staff disinfect a MAX train car in the transit agency's fight against COVID-19.TriMet is getting an injection of federal funds — and local residents got a shoutout from President Trump, who used his signature style to communicate the news.

"I am proud to announce the Portland Area's @trimet will receive over $184M in federal funds to support continued operations of their transit system," Trump tweeted around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19. "This will keep workers on the job and help the economic recovery by ensuring reliable transportation!"

The Federal Transit Administration later sent out a press release confirming the $185 million coming via the CARES Act. The money can be used to cover driver salaries, administrative leave for furloughed or quarantined workers, the cost of developing new pandemic procedures and policies, as well as for purchasing cleaning supplies or personal protective equipment.

The CARES Act — actually the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — is sending money to most major transit systems across the country, including the Sound Transit system serving the Seattle area, which received $166 million.

"This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation's public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who continue to depend on them," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

But as the Portland Business Journal pointed out, while this news may be real, it's already a bit stale. The grant funding, originally estimated at $196 million, was first reported about a month ago.

TriMet says it won't receive the funding until the agency documents its expenses and submits them for reimbursement.

Ridership dropped by 18,000 trips the week of May 10 — to 614,786 for that seven day period — after logging increases the prior two weeks. That's down 67.7% compared with the pre-outbreak February weekly average of roughly 1.9 million trips. TriMet says they've bounced back from rock bottom on the week of April 19, when riders made just 585,206 trips.

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