Group: Public transit systems forced to raise fares because of government budget cuts

“Public transportation systems are currently experiencing decreases in their funding during a time when many are serving increased numbers of riders,” APTA President William Millar said in a statement announcing the release of the report. “Systems are forced to continue to freeze positions and lay off workers, which makes providing necessary transit service even more difficult.”

The study found 63 percent of the largest transit agencies in the country had frozen hiring and 75 percent had laid off employees.

Millar argued that Congress could step in to close some of the gaps.

“With the challenges on the state and local level, this is a time for increased federal investment in public transportation to help with job creation and stimulating the economy,” he said. “Federal investment is essential to preserve critical maintenance and replacement of older vehicles for larger systems and to maintain crucial day-to-day operations for smaller transit systems. Clearly, local and state governments will not be able to make up the difference as these needs increase.”

Under the proposed transportation bill released by members of the Republican-led House, Millar said federal funding for public transit would be cut by 37 percent.

“If the House proposal is implemented, it will have a chilling effect on our country’s ability to create jobs and provide access to jobs necessary to move the economy forward,” Millar said.

The proposal by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) still sets aside 20 percent of federal transportation spending for public transit initiatives, but it reduces annual spending to about $38 billion per year.

The House version of the bill would spend $230 billion over six years, compared to $286 billion that was included in the last federal transportation bill.

By contrast, the Senate has announced a proposal for a two-year, $109 billion bill.

The chambers are expected to take up the bills when Congress returns next month from its traditional August recess. 

The full report on public transportation can be read here.