Federal Funding Could Vastly Improve Transit Services

With a $17 billion federal investment, every city's public transit could look like Chicago's.

1 minute read

December 31, 2020, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

My First Ride

Alan Levine / Flickr

With public transportation taking a beating during the pandemic, transit advocates hope that the incoming Biden administration will approve federal funding to support floundering systems and improve service across the country. New research from the Urban Institute shows that an annual investment of $17 billion into public transit systems in urban areas with over 100,000 would make most cities' transit systems comparable to that of Chicago—a standard cited by President-elect Biden in his transition plan.

In addition to providing a vital lifeline for the millions of Americans who don't own cars, transit funding has a high return on investment, writes Skip Descant. According to the report, spending 35% more on transit expenditures would yield around 131% increase in service and prop up the ailing bus systems that many essential workers depend on daily and that have experienced steep cuts during 2020. Experts fear that pandemic-induced service cuts will become permanent, causing long-term damage to the economies of entire regions.

Although public transit is often seen as a local issue, the Urban Institute's Yonah Freemark argues that Congress should treat it as a nationwide concern. While federal funds often go to major projects such as new rail lines and bridges, funneling some of this money to operational costs would help maintain and improve existing systems and temper the effects of this year's plummeting revenues.

Thursday, December 17, 2020 in GOVTECH.COM

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