Fiscal Facts: With ridership down, more local governments put taxes toward transit
Lower ridership typically puts pressure on local governments to raise bus fares, find other revenue sources, or cut services. Between 2014 and 2016, the last year for which data is available, all five of Wisconsin’s largest transit systems lost fare revenue. Losses during the period ranged from 1.6% for Madison’s system to 19.0% for Milwaukee.
Increased local funding, primarily through property taxes, appears to be one way transit systems have avoided service cuts and actually increased service. Between 2014 and 2016, four of the five largest transit systems in Wisconsin increased local revenue for transit, including a nearly 50% increase for the Milwaukee County Transit System. Fares have increased in some communities as well.
This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education.