State DOT funding increases for public transportation

By Chris Spahr
A new report from AASHTO shows that state funding for transit has increased from $13.8 billion in FY 2007 to $13.983 billion in 2011. This funding increase is a result of 18 states increasing their public transit funding by $1.23 billion, which made up for decreases in some other states.  The report also shows that federal funding for public transportation totaled $10 billion in FY 2011. The relationship between state and federal funding is largely a function of population served as opposed to the level of state investment.  For example, Texas, which has a population of 25.6 million, received $642.6 million in federal funds for transit but only invested $28.7 million in state funds in FY 2011.
This report comes at a time when Pennsylvania struggles to pass a budget that contains proposed increases in transportation funding of $510 million, which includes a proposed $40 million increase in funding for public transportation.  The AASHTO report shows that Pennsylvania has seen a net increase in public transportation funding equaling $195 million between FY 2007 and FY 2011 but saw a $169 million decrease in funding for public transportation between FY 2010 and FY 2011.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett hopes to increase funding for public transportation by $250 million over the next five years.  However, a recent report by the Washington, D.C. based research group, TRIP, brought much attention to Pennsylvania’s crumbling roads and bridges. Although maintenance on road infrastructure is needed, so is continued support for transit.
Chris Spahr is a Graduate Assistant with SSTI.