COVID-19 Hammers Public Transportation

New Analysis Shows $39.3 Billion Shortfall for Public Transit

Public transportation is helping to save lives and keep our communities strong, but the pandemic is straining public transit systems. Congress can help by providing a new round of emergency funding to close the gap.

The Cost is Severe

A recent economic study projected that our nation’s public transit systems face a shortfall of $39.3 billion through 2023. The impact of falling ridership, lost fare revenues, and declining tax contributions is already taking a huge toll. Consider the impacts in 2020:

  • 65 percent of America’s transit systems were forced to make service cuts. Many systems say they may have to make additional cuts, including furloughing employees.
  • One-third of transit-industry businesses, which support thousands of jobs, were forced to lay off employees and many closed facilities.
  • At the height of the pandemic, public transportation ridership fell by nearly 80 percent, as people stayed home to stay safe. Safety precautions rightly remain in place as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Despite these severe challenges, public transit continues to provide essential services helping healthcare workers reach hospitals, clinics, and now vaccination sites. Public transit also enables critical pharmacy, grocery, and utility employees to reach work.

Congress Needs to Build on Past Actions

Last year, members of Congress across the political spectrum recognized that COVID-19 threatened public transit—and they took action. Congress first provided emergency funding to public transit in the March 2020 CARES Act. Follow-up relief legislation in December provided additional funding for public transit.

But the new economic study of COVID-19’s impact on public transit makes clear that past emergency funding falls short. COVID-19 will continue to ravage our nation this year—and the economic repercussions will continue even longer. We need strong public transit systems to help carry us past the pandemic. This is why new emergency funding that closes the $39.3 billion gap is needed. Congress should renew its commitment to mobility in our communities during this challenging time by providing additional emergency funding for public transit.

You can help advocate for new funding for public transportation by raising your voice. Email your lawmakers now and let them know that new COVID-19 emergency funding is a priority for you and your community.

Categories: Covid-19 Politics