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U.S. transit agencies need billions

Metro has identified $11 billion in capital upgrades the bus and rail system needs over the next 10 years. But it is not alone as it looks for ways to replace deteriorating infrastructure and equipment.

A Federal Transit Administration study released Wednesday puts a price tag on bringing the rail and transit systems around the country into "a state of good repair." The cost? $77.7 billion. Once the backlog is addressed, the study says, the nation's rail and transit systems would still need $14.4 billion to maintain the standard.

The study comes as transit agencies around the country wrestle with falling revenue and deficits. The American Public Transportation Association, a lobbying group, estimates that 80 percent of the nation's transit agencies are raising fares and cutting services. Metro recently began implementing the most expansive fares increases in its history to close a record deficit in its operating budget. The New York City region's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has closed subway lines, cut staffing and plans to raise fares as it struggles with an $800 million deficit.

The study included 36 agencies of various sizes, including Metro, New York City Transit, the Chicago Transit Authority, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, St. Louis Metro and the Miami-Dade Transit Authority. It also covers a range of transit modes, including subway, light rail and some ferries, such as the service provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Among the nation's rail assets 26 percent were described as poor or marginal; 43 percent as adequate; 25 percent as good; and 6 percent as excellent.

The picture for buses is worse. The study says that 41 percent of bus assets are poor or marginal; 33 percent are marginal; and 22 percent are good; and 4 percent are excellent.

The complete report is here. (large PDF)

By Michael Bolden  | July 21, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Transit, Transportation Politics  
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Ask Obama, his funds are unlimited.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Ask Obama, his funds are unlimited.

Posted by: jiji1

Instead of bailing out the banks unconditionally and sitting back while they refused to lend money and paid their executives big bonuses from the interest earned on idle money, Obama should have insisted the banks invest in rebuilding infrastructure - roads and bridges as well as transit.

An opportunity lost.

Posted by: ceefer66 | July 21, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Why can't we flush money down two toilets instead of just one?

Posted by: fireball72 | July 21, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

It's certainly disappointing to see transportation systems across the country falling into disrepair. After the fatal collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, it's disappointing to realize how little has changed. As this study points out, public transportation is even more neglected. To get involved in the fight for improved transportation and funding in your area, visit and find a TEN affiliate in your area. Transportation should be safe, equitable, and accessible to all Americans.

Posted by: davin900 | July 22, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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