Urban Fold

More Passengers And Less Funding Threaten To Cripple Transit Agencies

The recession has made many commuters more transit-dependent while shrinking the public coffers that may for the bulk of transit service. Without further subsidies, agencies face tough choices because of this "incredible paradox."

"Between volatile fuel prices, a sea change in public attitudes towards the environment, and the enormity of the world's financial collapse, the nation's transit agencies have appeared more like amusement parks in the past year, riding a roller coaster of increased demand, increased cost and uncertain financial futures. But as the sobriety of 2009 has set in, this wild ride eased into a new reality: deficits, fare increases and cost-cutting strategies that are ushering in a new age of austerity that rivals any crisis that American public transit has ever experienced."

"Were the nation's transit agencies true businesses, many would have by now gone bankrupt. Eighty percent of the nation's transit agencies have reported declining operating budgets. Estimated annual operating deficits projected for 2009 treat millions like pocket change: $230 million for Los Angeles Metro, $160 million for Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, $200 million in Chicago, $100 million in San Francisco and $57 million in Atlanta. St. Louis Metro's $46 million deficit represents 21 percent of its operating budget."

Thanks to Josh Stephens

Full Story: Mass Transit’s Reversal of Fortune

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