Chao announces grants to combat human trafficking, improve transit safety

Twenty-four organizations will receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking on public transit

January 29, 2020
Put the brakes on human trafficking public transit safety initiative
Image: FTA

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this week announced $5.4 million in grant selections as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative.

From these grant selections, 24 organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation.

The FTA says that human traffickers use all modes of transportation, and sometimes public transit is used due to its low cost, greater anonymity in buying fare cards, and less direct interaction with government or transit officials.

"The funding announced today will empower transit agencies and other organizations to develop local solutions to address human trafficking on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation," FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a statement. "Our goal is to build awareness among all transit operators and the traveling public to enable them to recognize and report potential instances of human trafficking."

Below are examples of selected projects. The total funding for the projects includes $4 million in funding announced earlier this year as well as an additional $1.4 million.

  • The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California will receive $350,000 to launch an  awareness campaign that will include rider education on how to report suspected human trafficking activity as well as increased employee training on human trafficking. Home to Silicon Valley, Santa Clara is vulnerable to an increase in human trafficking and other crimes given its location near international travel hubs including air, sea, and rail as well as a rapidly growing population.
  • The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in Georgia will receive $352,000 to install communications equipment on buses linked to dispatchers at the transit maintenance center, allowing for live monitoring of the bus driver and their surroundings.
  • The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) will receive $242,677 to improve existing educational materials for transit agencies on human trafficking, operator assault, and public safety, and develop new learning tools.

FTA’s Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative supports U.S. DOT's Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative.