With ridership at record highs, transit agencies across the country are facing unprecedented fiscal crises in the economic downturn, leading to potential job losses, service cuts and fare hikes that are hitting at the worst possible time, according to a new compilation of nationwide data from the Transportation for America coalition.
To view the map of proposed service cuts nationwide, visit: http://t4america.org/transitcuts
Transportation for America’s informal audit highlights 51 communities across the U.S. that are considering eliminating jobs, cutting service and raising fares, but will receive no assistance under the current recovery proposal to prevent the cuts.
Emergency assistance to save jobs and service, which had been proposed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair James Oberstar (D-Minn.), was removed from the economic stimulus bill without explanation. Funds for rail and other transit construction were also cut, while funding levels for highway construction remained intact.
The far-reaching, broad cuts will directly affect transit employees and riders who are among the most at risk in this time of economic upheaval. These 51 systems together are responsible for more than 20 million daily trips by everyday Americans on public transportation.
“Our economy increasingly relies on public transit to function effectively, yet local systems are being forced to lay off workers and make cuts that will slow down economic growth and punish workers — including many low-income households who rely on transit to reach their jobs,” said Geoff Anderson, co-chair of the Transportation For America coalition.
Emergency operating assistance in the recovery package will create and save jobs immediately with relatively limited investment. According to the Amalgamated Transit Union, every $1 billion invested in public transit operations generates 60,000 jobs. Without federal assistance, the multi-billion dollar transit industry, which employs nearly 400,000 workers, will continue layoffs at a rapid pace.