Federal Transit Funding:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides a variety of funding programs for transit systems.
Funding is based on population levels. Smaller cities (by federal definition) between 50,000 and 200,000 populations, have formula funding (Sec. 5307) and incentive funding (Small Transit Intensive Cities). Student involvement in accessing the STIC funding can make a significant difference in transit service levels. The tables listed on the FTA Web site can be confusing because some of them only show a partial-year allocation and should be used cautiously when projecting FTA funding. Additional information is available from you regional FTA office, your local transit provider or on the FTA Web site: http://www.fta.dot.gov/grants_financing.html
State Transit Funding:
State transit funding varies widely among states. Some states—for example, Illinois—will support 65% of the cost of operation, while other states provide almost no funding. Each state has a Department of Transportation and there is at least one person in each state who works for the state DOT that is familiar with that state’s transit funding program. Go to your local state DOT and search for transit and you should find a contact person who is knowledgeable about your state funding.
Local Transit Funding:
Local transit funding from your city or county also varies widely from location to location. There is usually a ceiling on local transit funding imposed by the state government depending on the mechanism that is allowed for transit funding. Property taxes are common and sales taxes are also frequently used for local transit funding. The best person to visit with regarding local transit funding is your mayor.