OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced Thursday that it is issuing a grant of nearly $331 million to BART to help the transit agency recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $330.8 million grant is coming from the American Rescue Plan, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and is intended to help BART maintain its staffing and service levels in future fiscal years, as the agency’s ridership is expected to slowly return toward pre-pandemic levels by the end of the decade.

“Public transportation has been a lifeline for communities and the American people throughout this pandemic,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “This funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will help protect transit employees from layoffs, keep transit service running and ensure people can get where they need to go.”

BART is also expected to receive federal funding from the infrastructure bills Congress is currently considering. The agency could potentially receive the funding it needs to complete its extension into downtown San Jose.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said in a statement that including funding for transit agencies in the American Rescue Plan has been “essential” to helping people get to work as well as to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

“Keeping mass transit up and running is key to getting people back to work as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

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