Guaranteed Transit Funding Lacking in New Infrastructure Bill

Lauded by the administration as a historic amount, the transit funding promised in the revised bill lags far behind projected needs.

2 minute read

August 4, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Transit Line

Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock

The inadequate transit funding in the proposed federal infrastructure bill threatens to halt the progress of transit systems in the U.S., "locking in hundreds of billions of dollars for highways while setting transit up for long-term cuts in funding," as reported by Deron Lovaas. Yet despite America's reputation as car-centric, "[i]n 2018 alone we took almost 10 billion trips by bus, train, or other means of travel. And this way of getting around benefits us all, whether we live in cities, suburbs, or rural areas."

Furthermore, transit is crucial to the livelihoods of many. "More than half of riders use transit because they need to (cars are expensive to own and maintain!) or because they want to save money. That means transit is one of the best investments we make in equity. And not just economic equity — 60 percent of riders are Black, Indigenous or People of Color."

Yet funding–particularly guaranteed funding–lags far behind estimated needs. Passing guaranteed transit funding, argues Lovaas, is important because it "is more useful to transit agencies than non-guaranteed funding," allowing them "to plan and finance projects more cost-effectively," and because "[i]f transit loses ground in this round of negotiations, the starting line for transit next time around will be even farther from where it needs to be." According to Lovaas, "[n]ow is the time to take a leap forward by sticking with the deal in place since 1982 and delivering a boost to transit investment on top of it, not taking a big step back."

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