EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will provide El Paso a piece of the millions of dollars in grants to projects nationwide to improve transit agencies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of El Paso’s Mass Transit Department, which is in charge of Sun Metro, is set to receive $225,000 from USDOT to integrate a contactless payment system to riders. The system will allow riders to purchase tickets and passes using mobile devices or credit cards, according to a news release from USDOT.

An accompanying mobile application will provide users with real-time locations and schedules of buses, according to the news release.

“We are extremely grateful to the FTA for this award. The funding is critical during the
COVID-19 pandemic in supporting our innovative efforts to keep our passengers safe.
The grant will allow us to develop and integrate a contactless payment system for tickets
and passes,” said Sun Metro Managing Director Ellen Smyth.

The grant comes from nearly $16 million in funds awarded to 37 projects throughout the country. Efforts to assist transit operations throughout the country come from the Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Program.

The program aims to fund disinfecting protocols, contactless payment systems and modernize data collection.

“These additional resources will provide transit agencies and the states with the additional resources to strengthen public confidence in transit, which remains among the safest modes of travel during the public health emergency,” said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane William. “Our support will help leverage new technologies that will improve safety and efficiency throughout our transit systems.”