From the presidential race to the race for governor to our local elected officials, media is bombarding us with ads, debates, and more. The question that I continue to ask is how will public transit fare in Missouri and nationally as a result of who is elected tomorrow? Will we be able to expand to more areas in St. Louis like West County, South City and North City? Will there be more funding to allow for expanded bus service in Clayton or Richmond Heights?
Recently, the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA), a statewide organization in Missouri representing transit providers, released a case statement on the need for state investment in public transit. According to the national American Public Transit Association, every dollar spent on public transportation generates four dollars in direct return on investment in economic activity. There are not many investments like this generating such a high return in today’s economy.
For several years, Missouri state funding for transit has lingered near the bottom in rankings across the country. Missouri comes in at 45th for funding for public transit.
Last year, Metro received a total of $200,000 from the state of Missouri. This is not just an urban issue in Missouri. Many of the rural transit providers are facing the same problem on smaller scales. Add on the fact that federal funding is becoming more scarce for capital and operating and both presidential candidates aren't doing much talking about transit policy, Missouri transit agencies face a huge gap in funding that other states are stepping up to the plate to provide.
We know that public transportation also improves mobility, increases economic growth, decreases unemployment, increases independence in our seniors, improves environment quality and helps to build livable, sustainable communities – all on top of that 4 to 1 return for the region and the state.
With the elections tomorrow, remember to find out which candidates will be supporting transit in Missouri. This could have a direct impact on the future of our transit sytems and the ability to move forward in Missouri.
For the full case statement, MPTA Case Statement on Investment in Transit