Estimating Impacts of COVID-19 on Transit Funding and Expenditures

Research Team: Juan Matute (lead), Martin Wachs, and Brian Taylor

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Transit is most cost-effective when transit vehicles are crowded throughout the day, which runs counter to current public health guidance calling for physical distancing and frequently disinfecting public transit vehicles. The costs in lost revenue from limitations on vehicle capacity, coupled with long term declining revenue—not only fare revenues but also parking, advertising, and concessionaire rent—as well as subsidies primarily from motor vehicle fuel taxes and sales taxes, pose serious challenges to transit.

Project Description: This research will inform statewide and local decisions regarding transit funding and service levels in California at a time of financial stress by modeling changes (1) in transit vehicle revenues (per hour and by mile), (2) in public subsidy including local and state tax revenues, and (3) in expenditures (e.g., cleaning costs) and other fixed and variable costs. This research will provide insights on the impact of changes in revenues and operating profiles on the cash flow of California transit agencies, and develop analytical tools as appropriate .

Status: In Progress

Budget: $25,000