Local and Regional Funding Mechanisms for Public Transportation

Public transportation operating and capital expenses are financed through various funding mechanisms, including federal, state, and local government funds and directly generated funds (e.g., revenues generated by the transit agency, including passenger fare revenues, advertising revenues, and bond proceeds; donations; and taxes levied by the transit agency). Each of these sources of revenue is critical to the effective operation of public transportation services. Over time, the amount of funding needed has increased as the costs of public transportation have increased and as public transportation services have been expanded to include more bus and demand-responsive services and more light- and heavy-rail services. Consequently, public transportation agencies need information on alternative funding mechanisms that can be used to support transit in their communities. Each year, FTA collects and reports information through the National Transit Database (NTD) on the key sources of funds used for transit operating and capital expenses by each transit agency in an urbanized area. Tables 1 through 10 of the NTD present data on federal, state, and local funds and funds directly generated by the transit agency. Periodically, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, working with the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), publishes a report on state-level funding for transit. This report presents aggregate state-level data for public transportation by the source and use of federal and state funds. These resources provide important information to transit operators and public policy makers. It has been more than 20 years since significant research has been conducted on local and regional (i.e., non-federal and non-state) funding for public transportation. No information is available that describes funding mechanisms from local and regional sources beyond the revenue amounts reported in the NTD for key categories of transit operating and capital funds. Without this information, communities and public transportation agencies spend considerable time and money identifying and considering the funding options available. Research is needed on funding mechanisms to allow local governments and transit agencies to consider and pursue appropriate funding for current and future public transportation services. The research results should describe a broad range of funding mechanisms and provide sufficient information to allow investigation and comparison of funding options and to implement the funding mechanisms. The objectives of this research are to develop (1) a handbook that identifies and describes potential local and regional funding mechanisms for public transportation services in urban and rural areas; discusses the pros and cons of each type of mechanism; and provides broad guidance on implementation and (2) a searchable resource that allows examination by type of funding mechanism, key characteristics of each mechanism, and characteristics of the public transportation entities. This research should not include passenger fare or advertising revenues.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $250000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project H-34

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Performing Organizations:

    Cambridge Systematics, Incorporated

    150 Cambridge Park Drive, Suite 4000
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02140-2369
  • Principal Investigators:

    Stanley, Robert

  • Start Date: 20060808
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20080915
  • Source Data: RiP Project 11724

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01549275
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transit Cooperative Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project H-34
  • Files: RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 30 2014 1:01AM