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Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Agencies: Survey Results

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, April 5th, 2010

AMERICAN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION

Executive Summary and Key Findings

Public transportation agencies across the United States are in the midst of unprecedented budgetary challenges as a result of the current recession. Transit agencies have been forced to cut service, lay off employees, raise fares, slow capital improvements and take many other actions to survive. More troubling is that this comes at a time when transit use is at near modern record levels. This report, based on a March 2010 survey, provides a national perspective on the extent to which the current recession is affecting public transit agencies and the tens of millions of Americans who use their services.

The survey asked APTA member transit agencies to report on actions they have taken since January 1, 2009 in response to the economic downturn and those actions anticipated in the near future. 151 transit agencies responded; these agencies carry more than 80 percent of all public transportation riders in the United States. The results show that service cuts, fare increases, and reductions in staff, benefits, and pay are faced by a large number of transit agencies due to declining revenues. The impacts were most severe among the larger public transportation agencies.

The survey found the following:

-Revenue decline is widespread, with 90 percent of public transit agencies reporting flat or decreased local funding and 89 percent reporting flat or decreased state funding.
-Budgetary pressures are increasing with seven out of ten agencies (69%) projecting budget shortfalls in the coming year.
-Despite actions taken to address budgetary issues, 11 transit agencies project shortfalls in excess of 20 percent, and the cumulative projected shortfall among participating transit agencies is almost $2 billion.
-More than 8 out of 10 transit agencies (84%) have cut service or raised fares or are considering either of those actions for the future, with nearly three in five agencies (59%) having already cut service or raised fares.
-Larger transit agencies were more likely to have a decrease in local, regional, or state funding, or fare revenue than other transit agencies. Among larger agencies, more than half (54%) have already increased fares, and two in three (66%) have cut service. Nearly all (97%) of larger agencies have cut service or raised fares or are considering doing so in the future.
-More than half of all transit agencies (53%) have eliminated positions and one in three (32%) have laid off employees. Among larger transit agencies, the cuts in staff have been more common, with four out of five (80%) reducing positions and more than half (57%) laying off employees.

Meanwhile, public transportation agencies across the country continue to seek solutions and do all they can to provide critical service to connect people to jobs and help support an economic resurgence. Given current economic trends, most see heightening pressures in the months ahead as agencies face unprecedented budgetary challenges. In order to protect vital public transit service, state, local and federal partners must provide critical funding to help transit agencies move beyond the immediate economic crisis.

aptasurvey2010

Download full report (PDF): Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Agencies

About American Public Transportation Association
www.apta.com
“APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning,  design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and  departments of transportation…APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.”

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