(p. A4) The bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate this month is the latest effort to inject federal money into public transit agencies. But all that money likely won’t buy what transit really needs: more riders.
Unless ridership recovers from its pandemic-induced drop, agencies will again confront large budget deficits once the federal money runs out in three or four years, analysts say. That could mean service cuts and fare increases, according to transit agencies.
“As soon as the money stops flowing, transit agencies are going to be in the same position as they were before,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, a transportation policy expert at the libertarian-leaning Reason Foundation.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for instance, expects to use up its $14.5 billion allocation of federal aid by 2024, at which point it will face a $3.5 billion two-year shortfall.
. . .
Some experts say agencies’ financial struggles during the pandemic should prompt Congress to help fund agencies’ day-to-day costs.
. . .
Other analysts, however, say agencies need to find ways to adapt instead of living off federal subsidies.
“The problem with free money is it does not encourage innovation, and that’s really what transit agencies need to be encouraged to do right now,” said the Reason Foundation’s Mr. Feigenbaum. “It’s just postponing the reckoning.”
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date August 22, 2021, and has the title “Transit Got Billions in Relief From Congress but Still Faces Deficits.”)