SURTC Surveys Small Urban Transit Systems on Recent Changes in Service Levels, Fares, and Funding

SURTC recently conducted a survey of transit agencies serving small urbanized areas (with a population of 50,000 to 200,000). The survey collected information from across the country regarding recent changes in service levels, fares, operational funding, and ridership. Similar to a recent survey by the American Public Transportation Association, the survey asked transit agencies to report any action they had taken since January 1, 2009, or actions they were considering for the future. The survey also inquired about the motivation behind service and fare changes, thoughts about the rationale for transit subsidies, and the role that factors such as congestion, safety, and environmental issues play in marketing transit services and obtaining funding. Responses were received from 141 transit agencies.

The major findings from the survey are:

  • Forty-seven percent of transit agencies surveyed have either increased fares or reduced service, and 14% have done both.
  • Two-thirds of transit agencies responding to this survey said that demand for transit service in their community is increasing; 28% answered that demand is staying about the same, while just 4% said that demand is decreasing.
  • Of those who said that demand is increasing, most (94%) said their agency is facing limitations in its ability to add service to meet this demand.
  • Thirty-six percent of agencies reported decreased operational funding from local or regional sources over the last year, while 34% said the same about state funding. Federal funding levels were mostly unchanged.
  • On average, these agencies reported increased ridership since 2008, though there is significant variation in response, including 30% that said ridership has decreased. Meanwhile, a quarter reported that ridership is up more than 10%.

For more information about the survey and all the survey results, see the following report:

Changes in Service Levels, Fares, and Funding for Small Urban Transit Agencies: Survey Results

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SURTC is a part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University