The National Academies

TCRP H-07 [Completed]

Funding Strategies for Public Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $199,836
Research Agency: Price Waterhouse LLP
Principal Investigator: Hensley Evans and Daniel Roth
Effective Date: 2/15/1996
Completion Date: 10/31/1997

This research project produced TCRP Report 31, a two-volume report that addresses the current state of funding for public transportation in the United States, the various circumstances that have contributed to today's funding environment, and specific strategies that transit agencies are pursuing to identify new sources of funding. Volume 1, the project's final report, provides a national perspective on public transportation funding while Volume 2, a casebook, presents case-level information on innovative methods for generating revenue for public transportation capital and operating costs.

TCRP Report 31 is the culmination of the work performed under TCRP Project H-7, Funding Strategies for Public Transportation. The project was initiated to examine and summarize trends in public transportation revenue, expenditures, and funding. The objectives of this project were to (1) define and assess the current state of funding, in particular operating funding, for public transportation in the United States; (2) examine the performance of public transportation systems in the United States in light of expanding goals, expressed through recent federal mandates (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Buy America requirements, and welfare to work legislation) coupled with declining federal assistance for transit operations; and (3) identify strategies transit agencies have been pursuing that address the need to identify new sources of funding for operating and capital expenses.
    TCRP Report 31 indicates that, between 1989 and 1994, total operating and capital funding levels for public transportation kept pace with inflation and overall service levels increased. This occurred despite a virtual freeze in federal operating assistance at about $800 million during a period with 18.8 percent inflation. Many transit agencies in the United States found alternatives to federal operating funding and have reduced costs. Agencies turned largely to the farebox and to dedicated funding sources at the state, local, and jurisdictional levels. Transit agencies that increased service levels during the past decade generally expanded mandated or newer services (e.g., demand response and light rail) at the expense of more traditional modes (e.g., commuter rail, heavy rail, and bus). The casebook presents 17 case studies of financing techniques used successfully by U.S. transit systems to improve their financial conditions. The cases, which address both capital and operating needs, are presented in two main categories: funds generated through external funding sources and transit-agency-generated funds.

    Status. This project has been published as TCRP Report 31, Volumes 1 and 2. TCRP Report 31 is also available in portable document format (PDF). Double-click on the files below to access the report. (A free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.) Please Note: Because of the large size of these files, it may take some time--possibly more than 1 hour collectively--to download. We regret the inconvenience.

    VOLUME 1. Front Matter; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: Summary of Transit Revenue, Cost, and Performance Analysis

    Chapter 3: Findings; Chapter 4: Implications for the Transit Industry; Appendix A: Background; Appendix B: Summary of Relevant Findings

    VOLUME 2. Front Matter; Introduction; Executive Summaries of Case Studies; Cases on External Funding Sources: Dedicated Local Taxes

    Cases on External Funding Sources (cont.): Transit Impact Fee, Creative Use of Federal Funds, State Infrastructure Banks (SIBs), Revolving Loan Fund

    Cases on Revenue Generated by Transit Agencies: Capital Expenditures

    Cases on Revenue Generated by Transit Agencies (cont.): Fare Revenue Enhancement

    Cases on Revenue Generated by Transit Agencies (cont.): Creative Use of Transit Assets, Graphic Credits

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