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Public Transit

Public Transit




Current Grade

Trending Steady

Trend - Steady


Funding needed to raise to a "B" Grade



ASCE does not break out amount needed for Public Transit. It is included in the total need for Surface Transportation.

Public Transit

ASCE gave our public transit system a D- in 2021, the same grade that it got in 2017.

Here, the difference between the White House and Senate Republicans is especially large. The Biden Administration’s plan included $8.5 billion annually in new funding for public transit, a 64% increase in federal funding. The Senate Republicans’ plan would actually reduce current funding by $1 billion, an 8% decrease in current federal funding. The CSC proposal that President Biden now backs would spend $9.7 billion, a 73% increase in federal funding. The Problem Solvers’ proposal to spend $6.2 is a 47% increase.

The Case for a Big Investment

Public transit supporters argue that it provides an effective solution to the congestion problem. Unlike traveling by personal cars, public transit becomes more cost efficient with higher levels of ridership. Because it avoids the induced demand problem, they argue, it is a real congestion solution. In addition, proponents argue that public transit emits fewer greenhouse gases and provides transportation essential to those who cannot afford their own car.

The Case for a Smaller Investment

Even before the pandemic, many Republicans argue, people were voting with their feet and ridership on public transit was declining. With the experience of the many advantages of remote work and greater concern about communicable diseases since the pandemic, opponents suggest now is not the time for significant increases in public transit investment.

The Evidence

ASCE reports that 19% of transit vehicles and 6% of tracks and tunnels are in “poor” condition. About 45% of Americans do not have access to public transit. The total number of public transit trips peaked in 2014 and had declined by 8% prior to the pandemic. Nearly 50% of public transit trips are by bus.