Transit Agencies Adjusting to New Realities

As transit ridership remains tepid around the country, transit agencies are looking to diversify their funding sources and become less reliant on farebox revenue.

1 minute read

June 21, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Oran Viriyincy / Flickr

While transit agencies are bending over backwards to bring back passengers, they may have to accept that the post-pandemic future could mean fewer daily riders, writes Skylar Woodhouse in Bloomberg. Despite numerous efforts to reduce or eliminate fares, ridership continues to lag in most cities.

Jim Aloisi, a professor in transportation policy and planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says “The problem is structural and it has to do with how agencies have relied too heavily on fare revenue.” According to Woodhouse, “Unless the government steps in or new sources of revenue are found, many agencies may be left with two choices. They can either cut service or raise fares, neither of which will help to bring riders back.” Bob Powers, head of Bay Area Rapid Transit, is calling for his agency to “to be funded more like an essential service, with less reliance on fare revenue.”

As Woodhouse notes, “The outlook appears grim but not all transit authorities are prepared to accept current ridership levels as permanent, especially with rising gas prices and increasing focus on sustainable transportation modes.”

“Nationwide, a key part in boosting ridership will be to increase service and eliminate delays,” but doing so will require new sources of funding and a model less heavily reliant on ridership revenue.

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