What impact will the stimulus bill have on mass transit?

Budgeted for highways and transit in the stimulus bill:

• $27.5 billion: US highways

• $8 billion: high speed transit

• $6.8 billion: city transit (source: prorebulica.org)

I’d rather see the highway and transit numbers flipped. We don’t need more roads and highways. We need more trains and buses.

Just how far can $6.8 billion go for city transit?

Let’s take a look at the 2009 Chicago Transit Authority Budget Recommendations:

• $723 million/year: operating budget from public funding

• $600 milliion/year: capital improvement program

• $1.36 billion/year: unfunded capital improvements that are needed.

That’s about $2.7 billion/year to run a public transit system in Chicago (both operations and capital funding).

Obama’s stimulus package calls for $6.8 billion for the whole country. THE WHOLE COUNTRY. That’s 50 states. How much would Illinois get? If it’s divided evenly amoung the states, Illinois accounts for about 4% of the USA population. That’s $272 million from the stimulus to be for Illinois’ transit.


Illinois’ share stimulus’ budget for transit would only cover 14% of ONE YEAR for CTA’s capital improvements. I wish they put more money in the stimulus for city transit. Everyone could use it. Just wait when gas prices go back up again.

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15 years ago

I’m guessing the highways part is going to be used for repairs and upkeep (keeps lots of people employed, fixing those roads), not necessarily creating MORE roads. But still. How many more routes could be added to my area’s bus system with $272 million? Or even a proportionate amount of that? It doesn’t go too far in Chicago but it would make a pretty big difference here. But then again, that’s IF it is all to be divided evenly… which isn’t likely.

15 years ago

Hopefully it will be split up based on the size of the city-transit system. Chicago is either 2nd or 3rd (behind NYC and Boston, maybe), so we should get a proportionally larger chunk then cities like St. Louis. At least I’d cry if STL got the same amount we do. Their city-transit consists of *a single* light-rail train line, and it’s really useless. Plus no one in STL likes their city-transit stuff… Chicagoians love the CTA and Metra. The CTA especially needs some additional funds. However, I think they are probably making a killing off that extra $0.25 increase… No tourist is ever going to have that extra quarter with them per ride, so the CTA get’s another free $0.75. But that’s a different discussion. 😉

Lisa Schryver
Lisa Schryver
15 years ago

The budget for US highways does not necessarily mean they would be adding more. It means they would be fixing the ones we have as well. Anyone who has driven on a pothole-ridden expressway knows more money needs to go into their repair.

Lisa Schryver
Lisa Schryver
15 years ago

I think I read somewhere that potholes are a result of temperature changes. If you think all of Chicago’s roadways are good, try getting off at the North Ave. exit from LSD. I used to take the 151 up there and it was always so bad. It always baffles me how we can’t seem to find a way to prevent our roads from deteriorating so rapidly. I know it’s difficult since we have both temperature extremes here. I used to work for IDOT and we’d have to take bags and bags (and bags) of rock samples to Springfield for testing, etc. Why can’t they find a material that’ll hold up better?

15 years ago

I don’t have any proof for this but I was talking to someone once and they told me that we don’t use materials that last longer because it keeps people employed to be constantly fixing the roads (and making the materials and machines that fix the roads, etc.) I believe the roads in Cincinnati are constantly under construction so this sounds totally believable to me, but who knows. Spud, I couldn’t get your link for the circle line image to work :/

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