Highlights from the 2023 APTA Legislative Conference

Earlier this month, the executive leadership team from Genfare joined thousands of transit agencies and stakeholders to descend on Washington for the three-day American Public Transportation Association (APTA) annual legislative conference. We were happy to join our partners, colleagues, and others at this event to support transit and increase investment in transit.

During the trip, Genfare leadership met with a number of House and Senate offices to discuss our company’s role in bringing riders back and share what Genfare is doing to promote equitable mobility. In addition to our Illinois delegation, including Senator Durbin (D-IL), Congressman Bost (R-IL), and Congressman Garcia (D-IL), we met with several other members of Congressional leadership, including Ranking Member Jim McGovern (D-MA).

One topic that came up in almost every discussion was what agencies and stakeholders can do to bring back ridership to pre-Covid levels. Another hot topic was the issue of transit security, because many agencies are faced dealing with rising homeless populations and an increase in vagrancy, leading to an increase in crime on transit vehicles and in transit facilities that is deterring riders. Genfare offered its thoughts on these issues and discussed what role it could play in being part of an overall solution.

We also proposed a few policy changes that we believe will elevate transit at agencies across America.

Shifting funding policies to three key performance metrics: effectiveness, efficiency, and ridership

Current Federal transit funding programs are focused on capital expansion. While service volumes are important, and it is critical to provide safe and reliable service, the time has come for federal transit policies to focus on desired outcomes rather than desired vehicle volumes. Transit agencies need the flexibility to develop the solutions and service that most effectively meet their communities’ needs.

We propose shifting funding policies to three key performance metrics: effectiveness, efficiency, and ridership. This can be accomplished by:

  • Altering the formula to gradually increase the performance tier and reduce proportionally the population and service tiers. This would take into account ridership as well as operating costs.
  • Developing a new formula program based entirely on increasing utilization of transit. In addition, funds would be extended to non-capital expenses related to service expansion and/or service improvements, and agencies could be allowed to use funding allocated under this section’s incentive tier for operating costs.
  • Creating an innovation in mobility program that would include an annual discretionary grant for modernizing transit services and providing new services that address first/last mile and utilize microtransit. Funding would cover all costs.
  • Allowing agencies to use formula funding more flexibly to increase ridership

Supporting payment options and equitable mobility

As transit agencies develop and deploy new and innovative fare collection technologies such as cloud-based integrated fare collection, they must build flexibility into those policies to ensure equitable mobility. For example, cash must always be an acceptable form of fare payment. More than 7 million—or over 5 percent of U.S. households—remain unbanked. (FDIC, 2019) Nearly 20 percent more have bank accounts, but still rely on cash as a form of payment.

We propose legislation that would require recipients of FTA funds to include the ability to accept cash as a form of fare payment. We further suggest that riders be able to use cash at or directly near public transit or at a public transit station.

How can we help you elevate transit?

Genfare intends to stay engaged on policy and funding issues. We recognize that we are a part of a larger interconnected ecosystem. Our success is intertwined with the overall success of our partners and agencies. Find out how we can support your agency.