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When the fare doesn’t pay for the journey

Passenger fares covered less than one third of public transit costs in 2010. Taxpayers covered the rest.

Fares paid by passengers covered less than one third of public transit annual operating costs in 2010 – and nothing of $16.5 billion in transit capital improvements. Fare revenue totaled $12.2 billion for all U.S. transit systems: buses, subways, and light rail. That covered just 32 percent of what the systems spent on salaries, fuel, repairs and other current costs. Nearly all the rest came from government subsidies. For each of the 32.7 million daily transit trips taken in 2010, taxpayers contributed $2.13 on top of the fare collected from the passenger.

Click through today’s photo gallery for more on the state of mass transit. And join the discussion below. Do you think transit brings general benefits, warranting general taxpayer support? Or should riders pay enough so systems break even?

What do others say?

  • : Huffington Post blog: “A Sustainable City Requires Increased Mass Transit Subsidies” More

  • : Center for Housing Policy review: “Public Transit’s Impact on Housing Costs” More

  • : NRDC infographic: “The benefits of public transit” More

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