Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Surveying the Financial Conditions of California’s Public Transit Operators: An Early to Mid-Pandemic Comparison


Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to inflict severe and lasting damage to public. transit in California. However, thanks to federal financial relief from three stimulus bills and stronger-than-expected bounce-back of tax revenues from state and local sources, transit agencies in 2022 have avoided that abyss—bu still face an uncertain financial future. To explore the financial effects of the pandemic on California transit and agencies’ responses to it, we conducted a survey of transit agency staff in late fall 2021 and early winter 2022.

While nearly all of the systems surveyed reported moderate to substantial increases in federal funding during the pandemic, nearly three-quarters said that they expect some financial shortfalls once federal pandemic relief funding expires. Despite the loss of fare revenues, most respondents told us that fiscal shortfalls were not affecting their service presently, though neither are most systems contemplating moving to blanket fare-free transit over the longer run. While finances generally are not hampering service, labor issues are: most surveyed agencies reported difficulty filling open positions, which, on some systems, is limiting service delivery.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View