Public Transit Investment Decisions: Per capita trends and conditions

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail


Federal government, Investments, Public transit, Railroads, State government


The paper reviews the history of public transit back to 1954 when the Interstate Highway System first was initiated, a system that received major federal investments, along with the mass production of affordable automobiles, making it near impossible for private transportation providers, mainly railroads, to maintain a competitive transportation mode. Today's renewed focus on transit means that local and state governments must re-evaluate the benefits that overall mobility contributes to their economies, and their quality of life. The type of investments and how much is allocated is critical to the success of the local public transit network. The purpose of the analysis provided in this report is to attempt to discover relationships between local transit per capita investments and per capita use in service. For the purpose of this report, two Florida transit agencies were chosen for review: Sarasota County Area Transit and Lakeland Area Mass Transit District. Historical population, employment and housing data were collected; and transit performance data was compiled from the National Transit Database; county budget data was also provided by the local transit agencies. Questions examined include the effect of additional local funding on the system's use, and how the per capita investment in transit compares with other local funding for other sample jurisdictional services.