Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Is public transit facing 'fiscal cliff'? | State headlines

California’s major public transit agencies are facing numerous issues such as decreased ridership, proposed state funding cuts, and a looming “fiscal cliff”. 

The state’s transit systems are vital for low-income individuals, increasing housing density and achieving the state’s goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions. Transit systems are asking California lawmakers to invest in public transportation and allocate new funds to maintain service levels. COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant decrease in public transit ridership, impacting fare box revenue, and most agencies have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

In addition, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $2 billion cut for transit capital construction projects to address California’s projected $22.5 billion deficit. A coalition of transit advocates urged lawmakers to keep funds for new infrastructure and allocate additional funds to address operational needs. 

California’s transit agencies receive funding from several sources, including federal and state government, county or regional sales taxes, and passenger fares. Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in California. 

Transit advocates believe that the state’s continued investment in highway infrastructure and expansion has impeded public transportation development, and argue that public transit is the most effective tool to reduce driving behaviors and achieve the state’s climate, air quality, and equity goals.

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