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Everyone likes getting something for nothing, but history shows why the math behind free public transit doesn’t add up.
When bus service was eliminated for five years in Clayton County, in the Atlanta metro area, residents endured substantial increases in poverty and unemployment rates.
Agencies are spending new money — lots of it, in some cases — to crack down on fare evasion, with new fare gates, updated collection systems and beefed-up policing. But some experts question the cost.
Decades of underinvestment in streetcar, bus and train service coupled with an increase in public funding and planning priorities to make roads fast, smooth and far-reaching, help explain today's transit situation.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is preparing a series of recommendations to address the transit fiscal cliff and governance challenges. State lawmakers told them to "be bold."
They have to maintain finances as they try to avoid damaging service cuts and, at the same time, push for new bus and train lines. That will require new ideas, because the old ways aren’t going to work.
Construction on the $1.5 billion, 25.3-mile stretch of dedicated bus lanes could begin late next year or early 2025 if approved. Yet residents are concerned that a planned overpass will undermine the local community.
While improvements could take a decade to complete and cost more than $200 million, officials are hopeful that the city’s downtown transit system can improve its broken and run-down stations to boost ridership.
Ridership levels on the system’s Gold and Red lines were only 30 and 56 percent of pre-pandemic levels, respectively. Meanwhile, 22 people have died on Metro buses and trains since January and serious crime increased 24 percent last year.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure, the street curb is increasingly viewed as a revenue source for cash-strapped public transit as it tries to recover from the lingering effects of pandemic ridership declines.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority recently scaled back a voter-approved plan to add new transit lines, citing cost increases. Leaders worry that delays could further erode support for transit.
Amid changing travel behavior, many transit agencies are projecting bus and rail passenger growth based on a range of best-case and worst-case scenarios.
More than 30 states have laws classifying assault on transit operators as a special category of misdemeanor. Incidents are increasing, and transit workers and their unions are pushing for action at all levels of government.
For years, countries in Europe and Latin America have out-innovated the U.S. in providing quality bus service. Now, Many U.S. cities are coming around to the idea that buses are the future of public transit.
BART and other transit agencies are budgeting the last of their pandemic-era federal relief and looking ahead to big, ongoing deficits. Solutions are still hard to find.