Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), the St. Louis regional transit advocacy organization, today announced it is partnering with the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) to commission an Economic Impact of Public Transit Services in the State of Missouri study. The goal is help quantify the impact public transit access plays on the economic viability of urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the state – which, in turn, plays a critical role in securing state and federal funding for transit.
The study will be conducted by Robert M. Lewis, FAICP, CEcD, who is an independent consultant and assistant professor of Urban Planning & Development at Saint Louis University. It will take six months to complete and will build off a similar study completed in 2019 to define the current public transportation landscape, rider demographics and spending by transit agencies across the state, while also measuring the economic impacts triggered and reinforced by public transit across Missouri post-pandemic.
“Public transportation goes far beyond simply getting people where they need to go,” commented Kimberly Cella, executive director of both Citizens for Modern Transit and the Missouri Public Transit Association. “We hope this study helps riders, non-riders, elected officials and stakeholders better grasp the impacts of transit, the role of state funding and how important it is for the state to continue to invest at increased levels.”
Transit systems across the nation receive approximately 40% of their annual operating budgets from their respective states, but this is not the case in Missouri. Significant wins in recent years – including the 2023 investment by the state of Missouri that represented a 34% increase over 2022 and a more than 580% increase since 2021 – still leaves Missouri trailing other states. In fact, transit providers across the state of Missouri get less than 3% of their annual operating budgets from the state.
“A safe, reliable public transit system plays an important role in ensuring the state remains economically viable,” added Cella. “Whether people choose to take transit or not – it matters for Missourians.”
CMT and MPTA hope to release the findings of the Economic Impact of Public Transit Services in the State of Missouri study in early 2024 and will use the data to continue to build the case for more state and federal funding for transit.