TRANSIT: Miami-Dade County's budget for transit is stretched thin

April 1, 2015

Counties like Miami-Dade are forced to choose between transit maintenance and expansion projects because of tight budgets

Riders on Miami-Dade County’s transit group pay about $1 million in fares every 72 hours, but that’s not enough to compensate for the $1.5 million daily operation cost.

This daily operational deficit highlights the precarious state of the U.S. public transit funding.  For Miami-Dade County, and many other areas throughout the U.S., transit-tax dollars are being stretched thin.

Miami-Dade’s transit sales tax was approved in 2002 and increased the tax on purchased goods from 6.5% to 7%. The extra revenue was intended to pay for an expansion of the public transit system that was completed 13 years later.

In 2015, Miami-Dade plans to divide the $272 million transit tax amongst operation costs, municipalities and paying off debts accrued from projects. This plan leaves little to no room for new transit projects.

A hike on a bus-fare increase to subsidize operational costs was rejected. Another 38% will go to subsidizing daily operation costs, which would pay for a portion of the $422 million gap between yearly fare collections and the daily operating budget.

According to 2015 budget projections, municipalities are set to receive nearly 20% of the funds, totaling about $51 million.

Transit-tax reserves are facing pressure to expand its railway system into downtown Miami, which would need $69 million to complete the project. Reserves to be spent in 2016 make up approximately 6 percent of the 2015 budget. 

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