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Rising Fuel Prices Crunching Mass Transit Systems

AP. Even as the use of mass transit is increasing (earlier post), mass transit systems nationwide are facing significant budget shortfalls due to rising fuel prices, and are considering cutting service, laying off staff, raising fares and delaying capital spending in response.

The spike at the pumps could cost public transportation systems as much as $7.5 billion more this year.

While most public transit authorities are not raising fares yet, they have explored ways to cut costs and save money. Some have eliminated routes or run them less often, ended overtime, reduced travel expenses and cut other parts of their budgets, said William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

Some sample situations:

  • Albany, NY Capital District Transit Authority will spend some $900,000 more on fuel than anticipated.

  • Denver, Colorado Regional Transportation Authority is considering a $0.25 fare increase to help offset an estimated $11 million shortfall.

  • Salt Lake City, Utah Transit Authority is proposing a $0.25 surcharge to help make up an expected $6 million shortfall

  • New York City Transit is spending $567,000 more per week on fuel now than during the summer

Brian Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the New York Public Transit Association, said some transportation authorities earlier this year thought the high fuel prices would fall and waited to sign fuel-buying contracts. Instead, they were forced to pay even higher prices.



This is a perfect opportunity to add or increase a public transit tax to gas that would offset the additional expense and help encourage people to conserve. Doubtful that something like that will happen, but it should if we want a way to proactively deal with peak oil.

Jason Johnson

I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. Here in Utah the higher fuel prices are forcing transit companies to cut back on routes with few to no riders and get more efficient generally. Adding additional subsidies removes the incentive. If they cannot cover their costs through conservation they can always ask their customers to pay more.


That's right, have the poor pay more. It's only $7.5 billion about one week's cost of the Iraq war.


Well your not gona get a gas tax any time soon anyone who tries it will be canned real fast.

Dont forget alot of poor people rely on used cars to get around and getting a triple wammy of low gas milage low wages and higher gas taxes would be very bad indeed.

In fact from what I have heard gas taxs and tax revenues from them are likely to drop.

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