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US Public Transit Fantasies: Performance and Economic Stimulus

UCD-ITS-RP-12-81

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Suggested Citation:
Karner, Alex, Anamarie Urrutia, Debbie A. Niemeier (2012) US Public Transit Fantasies: Performance and Economic Stimulus. International Journal of Transport Economics 39 (1), 39 - 56

This article considers the performance of economic crisis stimulus funding on public transit performance in the United States. The authors note that little is known about the changes in the management of resources by agencies when funds are scares and public authorities require an increasing number of passengers to be carried by public transport. The authors focus on the performance of transit agencies since 1991, focusing on California. They determined that the effect of government subsidies varies by the source of funding and the size of operator. One section discusses the recent economic downturn’s negative impact on both efficiency and overall operator performance. The authors conclude that decreasing efficiency and overall performance are evidence of service-cutting behavior in the situation of operating shortfalls. Service cuts have a direct effect on revenue vehicle miles and ridership. They conclude by calling for additional funds for transit operations, particularly in light of the anticipated greater role of public transit in addressing climate change. This paper is from a workshop on the theme of quality, regulation, and environmental sustainability in public transport, held in October 2010 at the University of Roma Tre.