September 2010

GM Survey: Transit Systems Hobbled by Drop in State, Local Funds

by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

The recession continues to hammer the transit industry, according to responses culled from METRO's fifth annual GM Survey. Four out of five transit system executives responding said state operating assistance and local sales tax revenues were down, which has forced agencies to use funds that would traditionally be used for capital replacements on operations (see Fig. 6). Thirty-three percent reported spending stimulus funds on new vehicle purchases and 19 percent are using it for operating expenses.

One-third of respondents (Fig. 10) have raised fares to deal with budget shortfalls, while cutting services and "other" options, which included wage freezes and furlough days, came in a close second with 27 percent apiece.

The average salary (Fig. 1) for transit executives totaled $157,000; the highest reported salary was $279,000 and the lowest was $71,000. In terms of time spent in the transit industry, the average career length was 25 years. The longest tenure was 40 years; the shortest was three.

In addition to funding, the greatest challenges (Fig. 14) being faced by our survey respondents included recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce and ridership demands. Read on to find out more of your responses. Thank you to all the participating transit agencies for taking the time to complete the survey this year!

For the full survey findings, click here.


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