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St. Louis uses COVID funds to give eligible youth rail passes

Thousands of young people in the City of St. Louis will receive public transportation courtesy of taxpayers for the remainder of 2022 through $250,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds.

Metro Transit, the civic organization providing bus and light rail services in Missouri and southwestern Illinois, and city leaders announced an expansion of the Gateway Go Youth Transit Program. Approximately 3,000 city residents between 13 and 25 will be eligible for transportation to school, work and other activities.

The City of St. Louis was awarded $498 million in ARPA funds. It received its first payment of $249 million last June, and the remaining amount will be received no sooner than 12 months following receipt of the first payment. Funds must be designated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.

Last April, the Board of Aldermen passed a bill allocating $168 million in spending. The funding for the transportation is part of $43 million allocated to the city’s Department of Human Services.

“An investment in our youth is an investment in our future,” Justin Jackson, director of the Community Development Agency, said in a statement. “Through the American Rescue Plan, St. Louis is making it easier for youth to use public transit while saving for families in the long run.”

Last July, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and the Board of Aldermen allocated $5 million in direct financial payments to families negatively impacted by the pandemic. A one-time allotment of $500 was expected to be awarded to 10,000 eligible families. More than 10,000 applications were filed during the first four days of the program in December.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis partnered with the city to process applications and distribute the money. In early March, the United Way reported completed distribution of 7,000 cash cards representing $3.5 million in direct financial assistance.

“We are working diligently in the follow up with residents who submitted incomplete applications to provide guidance and make sure they have the opportunity to send in documentation in order to complete the review process,” Erin Smith, vice president of communications for the United Way, said in an email.

Smith said successful applicants could expect to receive their cash card within 10 to 15 days of approval.

Transportation program applicants can pre-register online through the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment to schedule times to apply. Applicants must provide proof of age, residence and income below the following levels:

  • Individual: $38,640
  • Two-Person Household: $52,260
  • Three Persons: $65,880
  • Four Persons: $79,500
  • Five Persons: $93,120
  • Six Persons: $106,740
  • Seven Persons: $120,360
  • Eight Persons: $133,980

The Gateway Go Card pilot program was introduced in 2018 and allowed eligible users a 50% discount when purchasing transit tickets.

This article was originally posted on St. Louis uses COVID funds to give eligible youth rail passes

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