New Survey: 84% of Transit Agencies Facing Fare Hikes, Service Cuts
Budget shortfalls exacerbated by the lingering recession have forced 84 percent of local transit agencies to hike fares, cut service, or begin considering one or both of those options since the beginning of 2009, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
APTA’s bleak survey reflects data from 151 rail and bus systems throughout the nation, which together carry more than eight of every 10 U.S. transit riders. Sixty-nine percent of that group reported looming budget gaps for the coming fiscal year, with 11 agencies facing a deficit larger than 20 percent (see chart at right).
The economic downturn has taken a particular toll on agencies’ operating budgets, putting layoffs in the mix and prompting a schism within the industry over redirecting federal formula grants to cover transit operating costs.
Nearly one-half (49 percent) of every transit system surveyed by APTA has redirected capital funds, which are set aside for acquiring or upgrading equipment, to cover operating budget shortfalls. Another 18 percent of responding agencies said such a capital funding transfer was under consideration for the future.
“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,” APTA President William Millar said in a statement on the survey results, urging Congress to approve temporary federal operating aid beyond that already approved for the Obama administration’s economic stimulus law.