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How Much Money U.S. Transit Systems Lose Per Trip, in 1 Chart

Shocker: dense, compact cities tend to do better than others.
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Hamilton Project

Alison Burke over at Brookings points us to the chart below, via the Hamilton Project, showing how much money major U.S. public transit systems lose per ride. The immediate if unsurprising takeaway is that every single metro rail system loses money. Only a handful of America’s 1,800-plus mass transit operations (metro trains as well as buses and other modes) generated more fare revenue in 2013 than they paid in costs, according to Hamilton.

A number of big rail systems managed to lose just about a buck per trip, or slightly less. These include New York, D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Francisco’s BART, and Philadelphia. On the flipside of the scale are systems like Pittsburgh, Santa Clara, and Hampton Roads (Virginia), where the losses exceeded $5 a pop.