June 22, 2009
New Survey: Declining Transit Revenues Lead to Fare Increases, Service Cuts
More than 80 percent of U.S. public transportation systems have seen flat or decreased funding at the local, regional, and state levels and, as a result, 89 percent of transit systems facing this decrease have been forced to raise fares or cut service, according to an APTA survey released June 15.
The report, Challenge of State and Local Funding Constraints on Transit Systems: Effects on Service Fares, Employment and Ridership, reveals that almost half of systems facing revenue declines—47 percent—have had to raise their fares as well as cutting service to address funding shortfalls. The report is based on a survey of 98 APTA transit system members representing more than half of the nation’s transit riders, and includes 10 of the top 15 agencies in terms of annual ridership.
“Raising fares and cutting service drives people away from using public transit and is counterproductive as America struggles to create jobs, cut greenhouse gases, and reduce our reliance on expensive foreign oil,” said Millar.
APTA has called on Congress to provide new revenue sources for public transit riders through two pieces of legislation now being considered. First, APTA requested an allocation of cap and trade revenues for public transportation in the current climate change legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act—given that public transit is part of the solution to address climate change, with it saving 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 4.2 billion gallons of fuel per year.
Second, APTA urged quick passage of the House and Senate conferee provision in the pending war supplemental bill to permit transit systems to use up to 10 percent of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act formula funds for operating purposes. The House has passed this bill; a vote in the Senate is expected soon.
“The bottom line is that additional funding for both capital and operating costs is urgently needed and that all levels of government—local, state, and federal—must step up and expand investment in America’s public transit systems to meet our country’s economic, energy and environmental challenges, while increasing mobility choices,” said Millar.