Despite Billions In Federal Largesse, City Transit Systems Teetering On ‘Fiscal Cliff’

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 24: People walk through a Manhattan subway station on May 24, 2022 in New York City. As the city tries to get back to its pre-pandemic commuter levels, it has experienced a surge in subway crime. Last weekend a man was shot and killed by a stranger while riding on the subway. That shooting follows a mass shooting last month on a Brooklyn train and a rise in thefts, fights and other incidents. The rise in subway crime remains a challenge for the new administration of Mayor Eric Adams. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  • In the San Francisco Bay area, public transit officials are looking for ways to raise $1 billion they say is necessary to keep their agencies afloat in the post-pandemic world.
  • Public transportation agencies across the country are facing similar dire fiscal situations as ridership and the fare revenue that goes with it have not returned to prepandemic levels and federal relief money runs out.
  • The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act was the last of three pandemic stimulus laws passed that gave $218.2 billion to public transportation and must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
  • The Urban Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank that advocates for more government spending on transit, released a report this month that said transit was facing a “fiscal cliff” once federal emergency money dries up.