Unfortunately, the draconian 35% service cuts announced by Pittsburgh's regional transit authority last week are the rule, rather than the exception, as cities across the country increase fares and cut routes, as they struggle with declining subsidies essential to maintaining operations.
"The counterintuitive result is that cities that are doing well economically are able to pay for improved transit services whereas those with many economic problems - the ones where transit is often needed most - are left to cut operations dramatically. Thus regional inequities are reinforced."
What is the path out of this vicious cycle of declining service and rising inequality? Freemark suggests two potential roads:
"Cities and states like Pittsburgh that are facing massive cuts in public services should absolutely call on Washington to increase its provision of aid to local governments, especially through operations support. But absent that - and in this day and age we cannot count on the Congress for much - raising local and state taxes is a serious option. It takes guts for public officials to promote tax increases, but we need to keep the trains and buses running."