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Transit Funding Solutions, Parisian Edition

10:44 AM PST on March 5, 2009

We want mass transit in American cities, right? Right. So how are we going to pay for it?

1429512270_188b3f36f2_m.jpgPhoto by wallyg via Flickr.

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic
suggests looking across the Atlantic for some answers to that question,
taking New York's MTA and Paris's RATP as examples of the differing
approaches in the U.S. and in Europe. His detailed analysis of the
funding of the Parisian transit authority, which relies in large part
on payroll taxes and to a much greater extent than the MTA on
government subsidies, leads him to a couple of conclusions, among them:

So, on the surface level, [the Parisian transitauthority] appears to be funded much like the MTA,with funds coming from dedicated taxes and from government subsidies.There are two important differences, however: one, revenue from thetaxes that pay for transportation in Paris are less likely to varysignificantly during economic downturns; two, the government subsidiesare designed to compensate when tax revenue falls short.

MTA’s reliance on sales and real estate transfer taxes puts it at agreat risk of losing expected funds, because consumption of consumerproducts (sales tax) and of property (urban tax) decreases dramaticallyduring recessions; so do the balance sheets of corporations, which theMTA also taxes. On the other hand, taxes on income do not see changesthat are nearly as significant, especially in France, where firingpeople is incredibly difficult. 

Not in
the mood for pie charts and revenue graphs? There's plenty of other
stuff on the network, too. Like a harrowing tale of road rage from A Year of Bike Commuting; some disturbing views of auto-dependent landscapes from Reinventing Urban Transport; and, from Austin on Two Wheels, a look at the slick marketing campaign for the B-Cycle bicycle-sharing program.

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