While 2020 saw dramatic changes to daily life due to the pandemic, there are a few things that remained unchanged – including residents’ reliance on public transportation, reaffirming that transit is essential to our region. Despite massive deficits due to dropping farebox recovery, increased expenses from new cleaning protocols and significant driver absenteeism, Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA} providers worked tirelessly to deliver as much service as possible in every rural and urban county in the state. This was accomplished in accordance with keeping operators and passengers safe. Efforts further underscored that public transit goes well beyond the ride. It provides access to jobs, education, healthcare and essential goods and services. It also promotes economic opportunity and results in significant economic returns for the state.
The 2019 Economic Impact of Public Transit Services in the State of Missouri study – commissioned by the Missouri Public Transit Association, Citizens for Modern Transit and AARP in St. Louis – provided the state with localized numbers tied to rider demographics, economic impacts, transit agency spending and funding sources. Findings showcased that transit is positively impacting Missouri’s bottom line. In fact, the direct and indirect economic output supported by public transit’s annual operations in 2019 exceeded $3.67 billion.
Transit is delivering in Missouri – yet the impacts could be bigger, better and more profound if the state would provide the needed support. For years, there has been no funding increases for transit providers. Thankfully, federal funding through the CARES Act supplied $248 million to assist during the pandemic. We hope the state legislature will pause and re-evaluate the need and significance of transit funding allocations.
Transit is essential, and we are optimistic funding for transit will be addressed in the near future, especially given that the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission has requested funding specific to transit operations. This is a big deal. We will be keeping our eyes peeled to SFY2022 budget decisions.
Mark Mehmert, President of the MPTA
Kimberly Cella, Executive Director of the MPTA
Download: MPTA 2020 Year in Review WEB