by Ryan Avent
The Senate version of the stimulus may get a bit richer where transit is concerned. Chuck Schumer has proposed boosting funding for transit systems to near $15 billion — $2 billion or so more than the House was able to deliver. According to Ben Fried, the total breakdown would then be:
$10.4 billion for capital grants, $2 billion for rail modifications, and $2.5 billion for new starts…
In other words, zippo for operational expenses. Now as some readers have noted, there is also stimulus money going to boost state and local budgets generally, which could be used to reduce the service and employment cuts many transit systems are considering. That’s true, but it’s also the case that there are lots of cross-jurisdictional transit agencies — like WMATA, which serves the District, Virginia, and Maryland — which might have difficulty prying funding away from state governments with lots of budget holes to plug. If we think this is a priority (and it certainly should be) then there’s no reason not to specify some funding for the purpose.