APTA survey shows voters want to see emergency funding for transit

Nov. 20, 2020
APTA is urging Congress to act on legislation that would provide the public transportation industry with $32 billion in emergency financial aid.

A FirstView™ Presidential Election Post-Election survey directed by Heart+Mind Strategies for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found U.S. voters support emergency funding for transit, as well as Congressional action to fix the industry’s infrastructure crisis.  

APTA has requested Congress act to provide public transportation with $32 billion in emergency financial aid as the agencies continue to provide service to essential workers, while battling financial crises of their own brought on by reduced revenues from declining ridership and other sources.  

The respondents to the survey, which was conducted between Nov. 3 and Nov. 4, self-identified as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. APTA notes a few highlights of survey include: 

  • 77 percent of voters want to see emergency funding for public transportation;
  • 74 percent of voters approve of the new administration and Congress taking action to fix the public transportation infrastructure crisis facing the U.S.; and
  • 71 percent said public transportation keeps communities working and is essential to keep society functioning.

“These survey results clearly show that Americans not only want actions now to save public transit during the pandemic, but they want continued long-term actions that preserve and expand public transit services,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.

The results of APTA’s survey are also supported by the actions of voters on Nov. 3 in several areas of the U.S. who approved 15 of 18 transit focused ballot measures. According to APTA’s Center for Transportation Excellence, transit ballot measures have a 91.48 percent win rate in 2020.

However, despite the support, APTA offered a bleak reminder that without at least $32 billion in additional emergency funding, many public transit agencies will soon be forced to make severe route and labor cuts.

“APTA implores Congress and the administration to come together to provide emergency funding for public transportation as quickly as possible,” said Skoutelas. “The crisis becomes more severe each day that Congress delays. The public transportation industry continues to serve essential employees every day, but without additional emergency funding, many transit agencies will need to make draconian cuts to transit services and routes and furlough transit workers, leaving our communities without service and jobs when they need them most.”

APTA asked its transit agency members and business members about the impacts of the pandemic in September and found six in 10 public transit systems will need to reduce service and furlough employees in the coming months without emergency federal funding from Congress. In addition, more than eight in 10 businesses have seen a reduction in their transit industry business as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly one-third of transit industry businesses are concerned that they may go out of business if additional federal funding is not provided.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.