FTA Awards Virginia COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant





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January 26, 2021

Department of Rail and Public Transportation
Contact: Haley Glynn
Phone: (804) 351-6647


The Federal Transit Administration Awards Virginia 
COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant 

~ Enhancing Mobility for Transit Users Affected by the Pandemic ~


(RICHMOND) Last week, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced its award of $247,500 in COVID-19 Research Demonstration funds to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). The funding will enable DRPT to enhance mobility for transit users affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.  


“The pandemic has significantly impacted the transit industry, consumer confidence, and transit ridership,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “As systems begin to safely increase service, the Commonwealth remains committed to providing guidance, support, and resources to our transit partners and the communities they serve.”


The COVID-19 Research Demonstration grant will allow DRPT to create a comprehensive collection of resources to help transit providers adapt to a “new normal.” It is intended to define the role of transit in this new environment and strengthen public confidence in transit services. DRPT will use the funding to develop an “Adapting to a New Normal” toolkit, including a strategy handbook and a statewide messaging campaign to assist transit agencies in safely restoring service and ridership. The handbook will include state-approved protocols and guidance on: 

  • Employee and passenger safety
  • Long-term sanitation strategies
  • Increasing service frequencies
  • Reducing vehicle capacity
  • Implementing multi-door boarding
  • Deploying contactless payment solutions equitably
  • Adopting longer term zero fare policies


“The COVID-19 recovery toolkit will provide transit agencies throughout the state with a consistent set of protocols, procedures, and communication materials that address the biggest challenges facing the transit industry,” stated Jennifer Mitchell, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.


The process of developing this campaign will include researching the strengths and functions of transit agencies, examining how customers operate and behave, and reevaluating transit’s commitment to communities throughout Virginia. This initiative will benefit transit agencies across the Commonwealth in different ways. Some providers lack the resources or technical capacity to conduct comprehensive research regarding COVID-19 recovery strategies; others may need assistance creating professional marketing and messaging campaigns. This project will support the implementation of messaging to customers and will include materials applicable to all areas of the state.


The toolkit will provide our transit partners with a package of products that can be used to address two primary questions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic: how agencies can safely and efficiently increase service levels to pre-pandemic levels, and how agencies can rebuild consumer confidence in the areas they serve.


About the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation DRPT’s mission is to improve the mobility of people and goods while expanding transportation choices in the Commonwealth through rail, public transportation, and commuter services. DRPT is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of its services on the basis of race, color, or national origin as protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For additional information on DRPT’s nondiscrimination policies and procedures or to file a complaint, please contact the Title VI Compliance Officer, Mike Mucha, at (804) 786‐6794, TDD 711, or 600 E. Main Street, Suite 2102, Richmond, VA 23219.