Stranded at the Station: Mapping the Transit Funding Crisis
How have you been affected by this crisis? We want to hear your story. Share it with us here.
With public transportation ridership at record highs, transit agencies across the country are facing unprecedented fiscal crises in this economic downturn, with many laying off workers, cutting back service drastically, and raising fares at the worst possible time. Americans took nearly 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008, a four percent increase over 2007 and the highest level since 1956. Public transportation use has increased 38 percent since 1995 — nearly triple the growth rate of the population of the United States. Incredibly, these record ridership numbers are being met with one trend at transit agencies from coast to coast: Service cuts, layoffs, and fare increases.
Americans without access to an alternative form of transportation, the majority of whom are older, African-American or Hispanic and senior populations, are being left stranded without access to lifeline services.
How have you been impacted by these service cuts, fare increases, or job losses? Tell us your story today and we’ll help share it with Congress.
“As employers and commuters everywhere know only too well, public transportation is an essential service that is critical to our economy,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. Noting that Congress had acted recently to provide an emergency infusion of general fund dollars into the highway trust fund, he added, “We need to see the same sense of urgency for the rest of the transportation system. But more than that, we need a long-term, sustainable source of funding for building, operating and maintaining the entire network.”
Existing federal policy is out of date and out of touch with the reality of public transportation’s growing importance to Americans and their communities. Only 18 cents of every transportation dollar supports public transportation and to make that situation worse, communities are required to supply a much larger matching amount compared to federally-supported highways.
A local community has to provide a dollar for each federal dollar received in transit funding, versus providing just $0.25 for each federal dollar received for highways.
Large transit systems do not have the flexibility to spend their federal formula funds on keeping buses and trains running and preserving reliable, high-quality service. Instead, they are restricted to spending their funds on capital needs — on construction and new equipment that they might not afford to operate. So they might be able to buy a new bus, but can’t afford to pay a new driver to operate it.
The upcoming transportation authorization is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the safe, clean and smart transportation system necessary to ensure all Americans have the options they need to succeed in today’s economy and to move our country forward.
Stranded At The Station (2009)
This 2009 report from Transportation for America and the Transportation Equity Network documented the devastation of transit cuts and fare increases on America’s communities. Stranded at the Station: The Impact of the Financial Crisis in Public Transportation was our first systematic analysis of the conundrum faced by communities and their transit systems: Historic ridership and levels of demand for service, coupled with the worst funding crisis in decades.
In this four-minute segment, CNN uses the old edition of Transportation for America’s map for an in-depth look at some of the impacts of cutting back public transportation at a time when Americans are riding transit in record numbers.December 8, 2011
Public transportation ridership continues to grow; agencies continue to raise fares and cut service
October 14, 2011
T4 applauds transit flexibility bill introduced by Reps. Carnahan and LaTourette
September 14, 2011
“Don’t X Out Public Transportation” events next Tuesday will highlight the impact of deep transit cuts
June 16, 2011
Nassau County Executive to privatize Long Island Bus system