Cities Struggling to Meet Surging Transit Use
"While the rise in ridership has been a relatively easy adjustment for some systems, others are facing difficulties in meeting operating costs, which hampers their ability to ramp up service or maintain normal levels.
Cal Marsella, the head of Denver, Colorado's transit system, calls it the "paradox of public transportation."
Denver's system, like many U.S. cities, is partly funded by revenues from sales taxes. As consumers spend less because of high fuel costs and a sour economy, the city earns less revenue. Consequently, funding for the transit system is decreasing just when their operating costs are higher than ever before.
'Just when our demand is highest, our ability to provide is being undermined by the whole crunch,' Marsella said. 'The last thing we want to do is curtail service but there is not a lot you can do when revenues are down and fuel prices are up.'