Metro Transit’s Service Area Contributes Nearly $2.5 Billion to this Total
Findings of a six-month study commissioned to quantify the economic impact of public transit services in the state of Missouri were released today during a panel discussion hosted by Citizens for Modern Transit’s (CMT) and the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA). More than 60 CMT and MPTA members, elected officials, stakeholders, transit riders and others attended the virtual forum, underscoring why transit matters to Missouri and state investment must be a priority. View the discussion in its entirety and download the report below:
Those in attendance first heard from Robert M. Lewis, FAICP, CEcD, the independent consultant and assistant professor of Urban Planning & Development at Saint Louis University who led the “2023 Economic Impact of Public Transit in Missouri” study. He outlined how data was collected and conclusions were made, before presenting the statewide impacts of public transit, as well as information on how transit influences urban and rural areas of the state and the respective economies.
Overall highlights of the study as it relates to accessibility, employment and economic impacts and are as follows:
- There are 32 transit providers in Missouri that collectively promote personal mobility in every single county by providing a total of 40.1 million rides annually. For some, transit is the sole means by which they can gain access to work, school, healthcare facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores and other needed goods and services. Others have personal vehicles but like to use public transit because it offers a safer, more cost-effective and convenient means for getting to places for work or play.
- Transit gets thousands of Missourians to and from their place of employment every day. It also directly employs more than 3,800 individuals, with an annual average salary of $86,400, and indirectly adds more than 22,000 jobs to the state each year.
- Transit yields an overall economic impact of $4.05 billion annually, including $481 million in spending by transit riders. Over the last five years, transit agencies spent an average of $401 million annually on capital investments. The state government collects an estimated average of $51 million in annual taxes because of the direct and multiplier effects of transit.
Hyper-local numbers are also outlined in the report including the economic impact of public transit in St. Louis via Metro Transit’s service area. Metro Transit employs 2,000 individuals and provides 24.5 million rides each year. The direct annual spending of those riders is $662.5 million, with another $293.9 million attributable to their in-direct spending. The total economic impact of Metro Transit is nearly $2.5 billion each year.
Kimberly Cella, the executive director of both CMT and MPTA, who served as the moderator for the event noted, “Transit is undoubtedly delivering for Missouri. The impacts extend beyond the ride, and it is imperative that continued investment is made by the Missouri legislature.”
Cella went to on to explain that 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. Despite 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 – Missouri is still trailing other states. In fact, transit providers across Missouri get less than 3% of their annual operating budgets from the state. “More must be done, and Governor Parson proactively including $11.7 million for transit in this year’s recommended state budget – which maintains the 2023 investment level – is a solid start,” Cella stated.
The panel concluded with a forum of stakeholders including Adam Kazda, Vice-President of Government Relations with Greater St. Louis, Inc.; Frank White, CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority; and Denny Ward, Executive Director of Southeast Missouri Transportation Service – who weighed in on the findings, before the forum opened up for questions from attendees.