“Our model assumes precipitous declines in fare revenue, significant declines in dedicated taxes due to an economic downturn, and more moderate declines in local and state support. In other words, agencies more reliant on fares and dedicated taxes will face steeper financial shortfalls.” – TRANSIT CENTER April 2020
RTC’s public transit program is reliant on passenger fares and sales tax. Passenger ridership is down by 63%, which means the RTC is collecting significantly fewer fares. With tourism shut down and retail businesses closed, it doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that sales taxes will be drastically reduced in the near term or perhaps longer.
Taken as a whole, the revenues that operate our local transit system have been, and likely will continue to be, substantially reduced. Without adequate revenues to support local transit the only option available is to reduce service. A reduction in service will impact the most challenged members of our community by eliminating what is often their only means of transportation. It would reduce access to essential jobs and services. Additionally, it would mean the loss of trained and qualified bus drivers, a critical part of our essential work force.
Thanks to the quick action of the President and Congress, and the great leadership of Nevada’s Congressional Delegation, it appears that a major financial crisis for our local public transit system may be avoided. RTC Washoe will receive $ 20.8 M from the CARES Act to offset revenue declines and allow us to continue our valuable service at current levels.
Here at RTC Washoe we will be using the CARES Act funding to do the following:
• avoid service cuts while many systems across the country have slashed service;
• continue full transit service and boost service where needed to promote social distancing;
• move forward with service upgrades that are planned for May;
• deliver needed meals and prescriptions to ACCESS customers in partnership with Washoe County Senior Services and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada; and
• fund personal protective equipment (PPE) for transit personnel.
The CARES Act is not a revenue windfall that should be dispersed in new and different ways. It is foundational funding that is critically necessary to maintain our current transit system.
“For the ten U.S. regions with the most transit ridership, we estimate that CARES Act funds will cover agency shortfalls for an average of 5.4 to 8.3 months. For agencies in the rest of the country, CARES Act transit funds will last 12.6 to 20.8 months, on average. (Note that these are averages, and some agencies in smaller transit regions will be in jeopardy as soon as the larger regions.)” – TRANSIT CENTER, April 2020