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Significant Funding Issues Threaten the Future of Iowa’s Public Transit System

For years, Iowans have embraced the convenience and enjoyed the benefits of public transportation. Public transit services are offered in all of the state’s 99 counties. Yet, today more than half 63 percent of our buses are beyond the useful life status and significant funding issues threaten the future of Iowa's public transit system.

Iowa’s public transit system has provided more than 137 million rides during the past five years. During that same period, fuel expenses increased 60 percent, wages kept pace with living costs and health insurance rates increased by 8 to 15 percent. Vehicle capital costs also continued to grow by 5 to 10 percent each year as a result of inflation and required additions to meet federal clean air standards.

Meanwhile, operational funding is flat, virtually no capital funding exists and proposed limitations to local funding create additional challenges.

Nearly 63 percent of Iowa’s public transit bus fleet exceeds the federal standard for useful life, and in addition to significant safety issues, outdated buses are less fuel efficient. The cost to eliminate outdated buses in Iowa is currently $161 million.

 

Federal Actions Needed

The Iowa Public Transit Association is pursuing additional state funding, as well as new and additional resources at the local level. Additional federal support also is necessary. The following federal actions are needed to address public transit needs:

  1. Our main priority is making sure Congress funds past FAST Act at the levels they agreed to when reauthorization took place.
  2. If there is an infrastructure funding program, we hope it would include the $2.85 billion in additional investment to the FTA Bus and Bus Facility program to help transit systems across the country reach a state of good repair and operate a safe, affordable and efficient bus fleet.
  3. IPTA supports an additional investment in the country’s transportation infrastructure. If consideration of such an investment emerges, IPTA urges that bringing the bus fleets and facilities up to a state of good repair be a high priority.