transportation infrastructure

Transit

D-

Overview

Public transit is essential to everyday living in communities across the country, providing access to jobs, schools, shopping, healthcare, and other services while enabling equitable access and sustainable mobility options. Unfortunately, 45% of Americans have no access to transit. Meanwhile, much of the existing system is aging, and transit agencies often lack sufficient funds to keep their existing systems in good working order. Over a 10-year period across the country, 19% of transit vehicles, and 6% of fixed guideway elements like tracks and tunnels were rated in “poor” condition. Currently, there is a $176 billion transit backlog, a deficit that is expected to grow to more than $270 billion through 2029. Meanwhile, transit ridership is declining, a trend compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Failure to address the transit revenue shortfall will only exacerbate ridership declines as service cuts mean that trip delays and reliability issues become more frequent. This stands to increase congestion, hamper the economy, and worsen air quality in the coming years.

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transportation infrastructure
Highlights

Over the last two decades,

52 new systems and 124 extensions have opened.

Buses operate on over 226,000

miles of streets and roads.

Commuter and hybrid railroads

operate over a combined 9,227 miles.

transportation infrastructure

Capacity & Condition

Transit has a presence in every state and community across the nation, whether it’s heavy rail systems in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, or Washington D.C.; light rail transit in Boston, Denver, or Minneapolis; bus rapid transit lines in Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Albuquerque; or bus networks and paratransit services that connect urban and rural communities across the country.

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Funding & Future Need

Transit system operating budgets traditionally rely on fare revenue and state and local funding. In 2018, total transit funding increased by 1.8% to $74.2 billion from the previous year total of $71.1 billion. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) also reported in 2019 that directly generated revenues funded 35.7% of transit operating expenses, state sources covered 23%, local resources covered 34.2%, and federal funding covered the remaining 7.1%. Under these conditions, a backlog of $176 billion for transit investments has emerged and is expected to grow to nearly $500 billion through 2039.

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Public Safety & Resilience

In 2018, there were 255 transit-related fatalities across the nation. Over a three-year period, total transit-related fatalities have remained relatively stable with a slight uptick in incidents. Comparatively, motor vehicle fatalities have remained high, exceeding 35,000 deaths a year since 2017.

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Innovation

Emerging Mobility on Demand

In recent years, many transit agencies have entered partnerships with mobility providers, as these services complement public transit by providing service during irregular hours, making first/last-mile connections, or providing transportation service in underserved areas. Emerging Mobility on Demand (MOD) and micromobility services, such as transportation network companies and bike or scooter share, have played a critical role in expanding the definition of public transit. Though MOD is still evolving, these services can provide solutions to equitable transportation access, payment options, travel updates, multimodal connections, and enhanced communication between the user and MOD systems.

Nearly overnight, micromobility began to have a presence in communities of all sizes across the country. Over a nearly 10-year period, we have seen annual micromobility trips rise from roughly 320,000 to nearly 1 billion. In 2018, there was a total of 84 million shared micromobility trips; this included 38.5 million scooter trips, 36.5 million station-based bike-share trips, and 9 million dockless bike-share trips, of which 6.5 million were on e-bikes.

Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are also changing the way our transit agencies are operating. Across the U.S., several transit agencies have begun to offer service on autonomous buses, and many low-speed automated pilots have begun. Additionally, dozens of pilot programs have identified funding and are in various stages of planning and implementation. While this technology currently operates on a small scale, the FTA continues to implement the Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan, which studies the opportunities and associated automation risks and suggests that this technology will continue to be incorporated into the system.

Raising the Grade

Solutions that Work

Transit is essential to creating more surface transportation system capacity and should be at the forefront in how communities develop multimodal connectivity. This includes integrating transit and micromobility options with equitable access for all.

Congress and the Administration should fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) by adding 25 cents to the current motor fuels user fee over the next five years and then index future increases against inflation using a multi-year rolling average of key indicators, such as the Producer Price Index or Consumer Price Index. As part of the solution to fix the HTF’s funding shortfall, there should be an effort to explore future long-term revenue solutions.

Increase investment from state and local governments as well as the private sector to reduce the backlog of rehabilitation needs and increase transit mode share. Continue increased investment in federal grant programs that improve and support capital development.

Encourage the continued implementation of new technology into our transit system to leverage innovation and mobility options. Together, these will continue to expand and enhance the transit ecosystem to provide better access for all communities.

Apply asset management best practices to minimize long-term lifecycle costs and improve the system’s overall condition.

View Report Sources

American Public Transportation Association, “2020 Public Transportation Fact Book,” 71st edition, March 2020.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, The National Transit Database (NTD), “NTD Data.”

Public Transportation Association, “2018 Public Transportation Fact Book,” 69th edition, December 2018.

Public Transportation Association, “Policy Brief: Impact of COVID-19 on Public Transit Agencies,” March 2020.

American Public Transportation Association, “Ridership Report.”

American Public Transportation Association, “2020 Public Transportation Fact Book,” 71st edition, March 2020.

American Society of Civil Engineers, “Failure to Act: Current Investment Trends in our Surface Transportation Infrastructure,” 2021.

American Public Transportation Association, “Public Transportation Facts.”

U.S. Census Bureau, “American Community Survey.”

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration,” Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance Report,” 23rd Edition.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Survey of State Funding for Public Transportation: Final Report 2020, Based on FY2018 Data,” 2020.

American Public Transportation Association, “Policy Brief: Impact of COVID-19 on Public Transit Agencies,” March 2020.

American Public Transportation Association, “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Transit Funding Needs in the U.S.,” May 5, 2020.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, National Transit Database, “2019 National Transit Summaries and Trends, (NTST).”

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Survey of State Funding for Public Transportation: Final Report 2020, Based on FY2018 Data,” .

Public Transportation Association, Nearly 90% of Transit Ballot Initiatives Pass in 2017: https://www.apta.com/news-publications/press-releases/releases/nearly-90-of-transit-ballot-initiatives-pass-in-2017/

American Public Transportation Association, Center for Transportation Excellence, “Public Transportation Wins Big at 85% Approval in the Midterm Elections,” November 7, 2018.

American Public Transportation Association, Center for Transportation Excellence, “Campaigns: What Happened in 2020?

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, “TS5.1 – Safety and Security Time Series.”

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts: Research Note, “2017 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview,” October 2018.

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts, “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2019,” May .

American Public Transportation Association, Policy Development and Research, “Public Transit Is Key Strategy in Advancing Vision Zero, Eliminating Traffic Fatalities,” August 2018.

American Public Transportation Association, “Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment: 2020 Update,” April 2020.

American Public Transportation Association, “Public Transportation Facts.”

American Public Transportation Association, “2019 Public Transportation Fact Book,” 70th edition, April 2019.

American Public Transportation Association, “2020 Public Transportation Fact Book,” 71st edition, March 2020.

 American Public Transportation Association, “Policy Brief: Continuing Impacts of COVID-19 on Public Transit Agencies,” April 2020.

American Public Transportation Association, “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Transit Funding Needs in the U.S.,” May 5, 2020.

National Association of City Transportation Officials, “Shared Micromobility in the U.S.: 2018.”

 National Association of City Transportation Officials, “Shared Micromobility in the U.S.: 2018.”

American Public Transportation Association, “Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment: 2020 Update,” April 2020.


PHOTO ATTRIBUTIONS

  1. Photo courtesy of WSP
  2. Photo courtesy of Valley Transportation Agency
  3. Photo courtesy of Anna Denecke
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