Transit Funding Solutions, Parisian Edition

We want mass transit in American cities, right? Right. So how are we going to pay for it?

1429512270_188b3f36f2_m.jpgPhoto by wallyg via Flickr.

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic
suggests looking across the Atlantic for some answers to that question,
taking New York’s MTA and Paris’s RATP as examples of the differing
approaches in the U.S. and in Europe. His detailed analysis of the
funding of the Parisian transit authority, which relies in large part
on payroll taxes and to a much greater extent than the MTA on
government subsidies, leads him to a couple of conclusions, among them:

So, on the surface level, [the Parisian
transit authority] appears to be funded much like the MTA,
with funds coming from dedicated taxes and from government subsidies.
There are two important differences, however: one, revenue from the
taxes that pay for transportation in Paris are less likely to vary
significantly during economic downturns; two, the government subsidies
are designed to compensate when tax revenue falls short.

MTA’s reliance on sales and real estate transfer taxes puts it at a
great risk of losing expected funds, because consumption of consumer
products (sales tax) and of property (urban tax) decreases dramatically
during recessions; so do the balance sheets of corporations, which the
MTA also taxes. On the other hand, taxes on income do not see changes
that are nearly as significant, especially in France, where firing
people is incredibly difficult. 

Not in
the mood for pie charts and revenue graphs? There’s plenty of other
stuff on the network, too. Like a harrowing tale of road rage from A Year of Bike Commuting; some disturbing views of auto-dependent landscapes from Reinventing Urban Transport; and, from Austin on Two Wheels, a look at the slick marketing campaign for the B-Cycle bicycle-sharing program.

  • The article on Transport Politic is very interesting…I’m taking a class right now on transportation finance and have been mulling over equity issues of using sales tax (esp in LAC) to finance our transportation infrastructure…this particular paragraph really caught my attention..

    About 2/5 of Paris’ transport funding comes from the versement transport, a tax collected on salaries in the Paris region. The fees are highest – at 2.6% – in Paris and the neighboring rich département (similar to a county) Hauts-de-Seine; they’re lower, at 1.7%, in two poorer neighboring départements, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. In the four départements on the edge of the region, the rate is 1.4%. Having the tax rate vary by location, with people who are more likely to be able to take advantage of public transportation paying more, makes a lot of sense. The region’s decision to tax the poorer départements bordering Paris at a lower rate also serves as a social equalizer, attempting to encourage investment in less-well-off areas.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

No 710 Coalition: No on Measure J

|
(This is the third of four op/eds on Measure J that Streetsblog will publish this week. Monday, Gloria Ohland of Move L.A. made the case for Measure J and Wednesday Streetsblog Board Member Joel Epstein did the same. In between, the BRU made their case for a no vote. – DN) Only in the car capital of the world could […]

BRU: No Fare Hikes Without Public Process

|
Image of "Times": Strategy Center/Flickr Earlier this morning, the Bus Rider’s Union rallied at the Wilshire/Western Transit Station to urge the Metro Board to not go forward with planned fare hikes for Metro bus and rail services until a full public hearing schedule is announced and executed. In May of 2007, the Metro Board adopted […]

LA Times: State Should Act to Save Transit Funding

|
An editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times takes the Governor, the Democratic-controlled legislature, and pretty much everyone involved in the dramatic showdown in state government to task for their role in stripping transit funding in the proposed budgets that are floating around Sacramento.  Sounding more like Kymberleigh Richards or Bart Reed than the flagship newspaper […]

Finding Effective Arguments for Funding Mass Transit

|
How much should passengers pay for mass transit? What with the financial woes of transit systems around the country, it’s been a hot topic. Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’re looking at the question from a couple of different angles. First, Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic looks at the role of mass transit in […]