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Transit Advocacy

New Survey: 84% of Transit Agencies Facing Fare Hikes, Service Cuts

Budget shortfalls exacerbated by the lingering recession have forced 84
percent of local transit agencies to hike fares, cut service, or begin
considering one or both of those options since the beginning of 2009,
according to a report released today by the American Public
Transportation Association (APTA).

chaaaart.png(Chart: APTA)

APTA's
bleak survey reflects data from 151 rail and bus systems throughout the
nation, which together carry more than eight of every 10 U.S. transit
riders. Sixty-nine percent of that group reported looming budget gaps
for the coming fiscal year, with 11 agencies facing a deficit larger
than 20 percent (see chart at right).

The economic downturn has taken a particular toll on agencies' operating budgets, putting layoffs in the mix and prompting a schism within the industry over redirecting federal formula grants to cover transit operating costs.

Nearly
one-half (49 percent) of every transit system surveyed by APTA has
redirected capital funds, which are set aside for acquiring or
upgrading equipment, to cover operating budget shortfalls. Another 18
percent of responding agencies said such a capital funding transfer was
under consideration for the future.

“As bad as things are
today, more drastic service cuts, fare
increases, layoffs, and deferred capital projects will occur if this
problem is
not addressed,” APTA President William Millar said in a statement on
the survey results, urging Congress to approve temporary federal
operating aid beyond that already approved for the Obama administration's economic stimulus law.

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