Can Public Transit Clean Up Its Act?

Municipal transit authorities are faced with the intersecting challenges of low ridership, anemic city budgets and passenger safety as states begin to reopen.

Despite $25 billion in federal stimulus funding, public transit remains one of the hard-hit sectors across the country.

While some predict COVID-19 could sound the death knell of U.S. public transit— which already faced major hurdles before the pandemic— others point to ways public transit could weather the crisis.

Cities outside the U.S. – where public transit is much more popular – have taken creative measures to ensure safety, from using drones to sprinkle disinfectant in hard-to-reach elevated places to coating metal poles on trains with copper, which kills viruses.

Revisiting schedules is also essential. Some cities are increasing routes for essential workers and minimizing transit on what are now low-traffic commuter routes.

And construction teams might take advantage of lower ridership to speed up timelines for transit maintenance or improvement projects.