Transit Funding Solutions, Parisian Edition

We want mass transit in American cities, right? Right. So how are we going to pay for it?

1429512270_188b3f36f2_m.jpgPhoto by wallyg via Flickr.

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic suggests looking across the Atlantic for some answers to that question, taking New York’s MTA and Paris’s RATP as examples of the differing approaches in the U.S. and in Europe. His detailed analysis of the funding of the Parisian transit authority, which relies in large part on payroll taxes and to a much greater extent than the MTA on government subsidies, leads him to a couple of conclusions, among them:

So, on the surface level, [the Parisian transit authority] appears to be funded much like the MTA,
with funds coming from dedicated taxes and from government subsidies. There are two important differences, however: one, revenue from the taxes that pay for transportation in Paris are less likely to vary significantly during economic downturns; two, the government subsidies are designed to compensate when tax revenue falls short.

MTA’s reliance on sales and real estate transfer taxes puts it at a great risk of losing expected funds, because consumption of consumer products (sales tax) and of property (urban tax) decreases dramatically during recessions; so do the balance sheets of corporations, which the MTA also taxes. On the other hand, taxes on income do not see changes that are nearly as significant, especially in France, where firing people is incredibly difficult. 

Not in the mood for pie charts and revenue graphs? There’s plenty of other stuff on the network, too. Like a harrowing tale of road rage from A Year of Bike Commuting; some disturbing views of auto-dependent landscapes from Reinventing Urban Transport; and, from Austin on Two Wheels, a look at the slick marketing campaign for the B-Cycle bicycle-sharing program.

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