APTA | Passenger Transport
April 12, 2010

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Survey: 'Funding Crisis' for Agencies Due to Economic Recession

The recession could be called an “equal opportunity employer,” in that it has affected every industry in the United States, including public transportation. According to a new APTA survey, Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Agencies, 84 percent of U.S. public transportation agencies have raised their fares, cut service, or considered either of these actions since Jan. 1, 2009—a direct result of declining revenues.

Fifty-nine percent of the nation's transit systems reported that they have already cut service or raised fares.

The report noted that 62 percent of transit systems either have reduced or will consider reducing off-peak service; 56 percent have made similar changes to rush hour service; and 40 percent have reduced the size of their coverage area.

“Public transportation is experiencing a funding crisis and it is negatively impacting the millions of riders who depend on public transportation every day,” said APTA President William Millar. “The results of this survey are grim as many public transportation systems are facing large budget shortfalls due to declining state and local revenues.”

He continued: “As bad as things are today, more drastic service cuts, fare increases, layoffs, and deferred capital projects will occur if this problem is not addressed.”

The survey reports that almost seven out of 10 public transit systems (69 percent) project budget shortfalls in their next fiscal year. As far as spending reductions, 68 percent have eliminated positions or are considering doing so in the future, while 47 percent have laid off employees or are considering layoffs in the future.

In addition, more than half (54 percent) of public transportation systems responding have transferred funds from capital use to operations, thus aggravating efforts to keep systems in a state of good repair.

Time for Investment
Noting that commuting to and from work accounts for nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation, Millar said: “Now is not the time to cut service that helps people commute to work or enables the unemployed to look for work. Now is the time for federal, state, and local governments to invest in public transportation to help support and create jobs, and maintain service to the public.”

The report is based on a survey of 151 APTA transit system members representing more than 80 percent of the nation’s transit riders, and includes 19 of the top 25 agencies in terms of annual ridership. The full text of the report is available online.


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