Friday, December 22, 2006

State Support of Public Transit: Some Surprising Data

The Moving Beyond Congestion initiative is focused on obtaining more operating subsidies and capital funds from the State of Illinois. Indeed, the RTA and the service boards--CTA, Metra and Pace--have adopted 2007 budgets that have unfunded line items entitled "Additional State Funding." These add up to new State subsidies of over $225 million in 2007. The amount of the hoped-for new subsidies increases rapidly after that.

A recent report from the Transportation Research Board entitled "Comparative Review and Analysis of State Transit Funding Programs" indicates that the State of Illinois already provides financial support for its transit systems comparable to that provided by other state governments. Indeed, on a per capita basis the State of Illinois currently provides more support for public transit than any state outside of the East Coast.

The TRB Report finds that the State of Illinois ranks reasonably high in terms of transit funding. State of Illinois support of public transit in 2004 was $778,700,000, which ranked seventh, behind New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. (Pg. 13 of 103) Illinois ranked eighth in per capita funding, at $61.25. (Pg. 13 of 103)

The TRB Report broke down the states into five peer groups. (Pg. 19 of 103) Illinois' support of public transit scored in the middle among its peer group (pg. 22 of 103):

Per Capita State Funding (2004)

New Jersey $96.27
New York $94.21
Pennsylvania $63.29
Illinois $61.25
California $36.72
Florida $ 5.55
Texas $ 1.23

Illinois did a little better when it came to per capita federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration:

New York $109.41
New Jersey $60.85
Illinois $40.58
California $34.26
Pennsylvania $33.11
Florida $15.41
Texas $13.81

It is noteworthy that the ratio of state funding for public transit relative to the state's share of federal transit dollars in 2004 was higher in Illinois that the average for its peer states. (Pg. 36 of 103) Historically, Illinois' ratio of state to federal funding has been higher than in most other states. (Pg. 42 of 103) This fact is indicative of a strong State commitment to public transit by the State of Illinois.

It is also highly significant that on an inflation adjusted basis during the 1995-2004 period the compound annual growth rate in the State of Illinois' support for public transit was a bit above 10%, much higher than the 3.9% average among all 50 states. (Pg. 43 of 103) Illinois' CAGR for federal transit funding during the same period was higher than the national average, although by not as much. (Pgs. 43-44 of 103)

In sum, over the past decade the State of Illinois has increased its support of public transit at a CAGR of over 10%. Illinois is now the leading state in the country outside of the East Coast in terms of its per capita support of public transit.

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