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Annual Transit Shortfall Estimated at $26 Billion-$38 Billion

The realities of the coronavirus are most obvious in the declining ridership, and revenues, on public transit in the United States, but it's not enough to shut down public transit when so many people depend on safe, healthy service.
March 23, 2020, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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TransitCenter has produced analysis about the ongoing effects of the coronavirus on public transit in the United States, producing a jaw-dropping estimate for the amount of money transit agencies will come fall short of expected revenue for the year given the reduced number of riders on public transit—despite the critical role of public transit in the public health crisis. 

Among the millions of people still relying on public transit, according to the post, are "Health care workers going to and from their shifts; cleaners, warehouse staff, and food workers reporting to their jobs; utility employees; heads of household making trips to grocery stores and pharmacies."

The need for continued public transit service is challenged by the risk of close proximity among infected people. Cutting service or shutting down operations isn't an option: "Public transit agencies cannot weather this crisis through cuts. In order to maintain proper social distancing, transit agencies must operate enough service so that riders are not subject to crowded vehicles."

In that context, TransitCenter for the first time estimates the amount of revenue transit agencies are likely to miss out on in 2020, coming up with two figures: $26 billion or $38 billion. So far in the developing crisis, numerous transit agencies have made specific requests to Congress for more than $1 billion in emergency relief, and the American Public Transit Association (APTA) made a request for $12.9 billion in relief from the federal government, as reported by Planetizen last week.

The TransitCenter analysis also provides "snapshots of current impacts on local agencies" and "two scenarios outlining the potential cumulative impact on transit agencies nationwide." Those two scenarios represent the low- and the high-end estimates at either side of the $26 billion and $38 billion figures mentioned above.

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Published on Friday, March 20, 2020 in TransitCenter
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