Public Transit Agencies Seek $12B in Assistance

Public transportation agencies in the United States will need $12.9 billion in funding to overcome the plunge in ridership they have suffered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Public Transportation Association said this week that amount is needed to offset direct costs and revenue losses related to the pandemic.

APTA said the money would be needed for $1.75 billion in direct costs, $6 billion in lost farebox revenue, $4.9 billion in dedicated sales tax revenue losses expected over the next six months, and $250 million in restart costs.

The trade group said a survey it conducted of its members found 98 percent of agencies have incurred increased direct costs for such things as cleaning facilities and vehicles.

“These funds are necessary to maintain essential services, including providing public transportation to health care workers, Medicaid recipients who receive non-emergency medical transportation, and law enforcement personnel. Without these emergency funds, public transit agencies may be required to suspend services,” APTA said in a statement.

Ridership declines in many cities have been sharp with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority saying its daily ridership has fallen 60 percent on subways, 49 percent on buses, 90 percent on the Metro-North Railroad and 67 percent on the Long Island Railroad.

Bay Area Rapid Transit in the San Francisco Bay area saw its ridership plunge by 70 percent on March 16 and 85 percent the following day.

Some small transit agencies have suspended some services, including in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where only para ransit service is still running for medically necessary trips.

Amtrak has said its reservations for future travel have fallen by 50 percent and it expects to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Other agencies are suspending fare collection including Akron Metro RTA and the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority.

BART officials said that would mean a loss of $37 million per month in fare and parking revenue.

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