Report: How MAP-21 Slashed Bus Capital to Pre-1996 Levels

How MAP-21 Slashed Bus Capital to Pre-1996 Levels

Jointly released by Transit Labs and the Community Transportation Association of America, this report found $1.4B in lost bus capital over the last 3 years.

In the three years before MAP-21, the U.S. Department of Transportation invested more than $2 billion annually in capital funding for fixing buses, buying new ones, and creating bus stops. Most public transit agencies have relied on this capital funding for decades to keep their buses in shape, serve more passengers, and provide a lifeline to jobs, schools, and medical care in thousands of cities.

In 2012, MAP-21 broke apart the flagship Federal (5309) Capital Investment Programs for bus and rail and put bus under its own section (5339). Under MAP-21, total capital funding across the entire public transit program decreased by $13 million, but buses lost almost half a billion dollars a year according to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) apportionment files, that’s a 62% decline.

Before MAP-21, roughly 850 individual projects nationwide earned an average of $875,000 in annual dedicated bus capital. Post MAP-21, there has been a 3 year $1.4 billion reduction in bus capital funds — while rail capital programs got huge boosts. Here’s how the 3 years before MAP-21 compare to the 3 years after:
How MAP-21 Decimated Bus Capital

Some staffers will argue that other increases in the 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Bus Tier make up for this. According to National Transit Database numbers, it’s likely $20 million of the $170 million Bus Tier increase go to bus capital. Read more here.

Here’s a heat-map showing how much bus capital money each state lost:

Bus Capital Losses Nationwide

For an interactive map of each state’s losses, check out Bus Capital Losses by State: Visualizations and Rankings.

Moving Forward

Dedicated bus capital is essential to maintaining a functional transportation system in America. Bus service helps the entire community get around faster and is the only available transit option in thousands of our cities.

Buses are how millions of Americans get to work, go to school, and get to urgent medical care. New Starts and Fixed Guideway projects have the same impact in our largest cities. But much-needed rail investments cannot come at the expense of small city buses.

Ultimately, the next transportation bill must increase transportation investments across the board, most especially for bus capital — hundreds of thousands of Americans will be stranded otherwise.