The pandemic could devastate mass transit in the U.S. — and not for the reason you think

Mass transit might eventually rebound from the worst economic trauma of the coronavirus pandemic. But it still may never be the same

1/24/2021 4:30:00 PM

Mass transit might eventually rebound from the worst economic trauma of the coronavirus pandemic. But it still may never be the same

Covid-19 is speeding up shifts in where Americans live and work, posing a long-term challenge to transit systems built around getting people to downtown workplaces.

before federal aid finally came through at the end of the year.Private commuter bus companies are also struggling. New Jersey’s DeCamp Bus Lines, in its sixth generation of ownership by the same family, suspended operations in August, saying it couldn’t sustain the ridership drop from 7,000 riders a day to fewer than 400. It was among the more than 500 bus companies to shut down — at least temporarily — in 2020.

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In Silicon Valley, where more than 1,000 “tech buses” used to shuttle employees from the Bay Area to work each day, Google and Facebook are telling employees they don’t need to come back to the office until September and July, respectively, and that increased flexibility to work from home will remain.

Transit agencies got a temporary lifeline in the form of December's $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, which contained $14 billion for transit — less than half of what the industry says it needs but enough to stave off draconian cuts. Combined with the $25 billion transit got from the CARES Act last March, nearly all transit systems in the country will have received at least 75 percent of a normal year’s worth of operating expenses.

More help could be on the way. President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion supplemental aid package, with $20 billion for transit, and down the line he’s pushing for an ambitious infrastructure package with big money to upgrade transit systems around the country.

His plan would also provide a $350 billion infusion to city and state governments, which together pitch in more than half of transit’s operating funds and didn’t get any aid from the December stimulus bill. After the passage of the CARES Act, at least some states reduced their payments to transit. North Carolina, for instance, zeroed out $51 million worth of transit funding in July.

But cities will be under tremendous pressure to ensure that transit systems are ready to go when people are ready to go back to work, at the risk of slowing down the economic recovery by keeping people from getting to their jobs.Paul Skoutelas, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, acknowledged that the crisis is “painful” and “longer than we’d like.” But he said he is firm in his belief that “our cities will bounce back, and they need transit to do that.”

Still, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s going to take a couple years or more, as we get the workforce back.”The workforce may be a lot different from what it was before the pandemic — and it may not be traveling in the same way it once did.“I see the rush hours opening up wider,”

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Chicago's Derwinski predicted. “I see the ridership patterns becoming more fluid — where it used to be your traditional 7:30-9:00, I see it now going maybe 6:30-10:00, because people will be like, ‘Yeah, when I have to come downtown I’ll come downtown.’”

For transit, that means the “traditional five-day-a-week rider” could give way to workers who come to the office only occasionally for meetings, and “we now may need three different people to fill that seat five days," Derwinski said.The pandemic has also changed how transit agencies think about the value they create — for instance, the critical role they play for society in ensuring that other essential workers can get to their jobs.

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This is literally the reason everyone thinks Mass transit is a moneypit in every major city. While it moves people, it loses money which immediately taxes the local economy or opens the door to corruption. The cycle continues.... Mandating masks on public transportation will help Maybe get a hold of costs? Maybe stop paying out 250k in OT to unqualified line workers taking advantage? Maybe Fire half of the senior mgt who do NOTHING. LIRR sucks balls

Pro-Life Republicans BLOCKED RAISING THE STARVATION MINIMUM WAGE 14 years in a row. REPUBLICANS ARE MERCHANTS OF DEATH!! Teen, young adult and elderly homelessness is skyrocketing, as is their suicide rate. We need mass transit more than ever, hopefully raising the Starvation Minimum Wage will help. 7,000,000 AMERICAN car loans are 90 days past due, having surpassed level of the Bush/Cheney REPUBLICAN CRASH of 2007? A warning sign of things to come

China created Covid. China knowingly allowed Covid to spread beyond its borders. China didn't warn the rest of the world. China is the only country to have maintained positive economic growth throughout the pandemic. China is responsible for over 2 million Covid deaths worldwide. That is why Pelosi bought all those Tesla options !