Phoenix Mayor Gallego Calls For Federal Aid For Public Transportation
Leaders in the public transportation industry say the nation’s transit systems are facing dire budget shortfalls due to the pandemic. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is among those calling for federal support.
Speaking alongside public transit industry leaders in a press call Tuesday, Gallego said the future of public transportation in Phoenix will depend on continued aid from the federal government.
“In Phoenix we are making decisions going forward and really trying to understand, is the federal government going to be with us for the long haul?” Gallego said.
Ridership across Valley Metro’s bus and light rail systems has been cut in half since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the agency has increased cleaning and safety protocols.
“All of this is new for us and comes at a real expense," Gallego said.
Valley Metro is planning for a 10% budget reduction this year, even with about $50 million the agency got from the CARES Act.
Paul Skoutelas with the American Public Transportation Association said the country’s transit systems are facing billions in collective losses from shrinking fares and declining tax revenue. He says CARES Act funding only went so far.
“That’s only proven to be a stopgap measure. It was a lifeline, but much more is needed to fill this growing gap," Skoutelas said.
The association is calling for Congress to include a minimum of $32 billion for public transit in its next relief package.