The Recovery Act provides $27.5B for Highway Infrastructure Investment, with a portion of that to support passenger and freight rail transit. The Act also allocates $8B to the states, with a priority on constructing high-speed intercity rail service, and an additional $1.3B for Amtrak. However, this money is going to capital costs, equipment replacement and repair, and system expansion. It does not support operating costs.
Transit funding in this country has been a struggle in recent times. For metro systems, federal transportation funding pays for a portion of capital costs, but for operating costs, transit systems are usually on their own. The relationship of funds from the farebox, the local region, and the state varies widely from place to place. In each region transit funding is linked to different taxes, allocation formulas, and political structures, creating a situation where in some regions the transit authority has the financial flexibility to invest in improving service, whereas in others the agency is constantly trying to stay afloat.
This background explains the diversity of news on the transit scene across the nation. Let's look at what's going on.
In Washington D.C. Metro is having similar operating funding woes, though not as severe as in the Big Apple. Metro will start holding hearings soon on cutting its MetroBus service, rather than raising fares. In Atlanta, MARTA is threatening major service cuts unless the state changes the structure of its funding and lifts restrictions on how it can flex its capital and operating dollars.
Ok, let’s keep rolling down the line. In
So, that’s the news from across this great nation of ours. And that concludes our journey today. Have a safe trip to your final destination, stand clear of the closing doors, and please, mind the gap.