Center for American Progress

Project 2025 Would Increase Costs for Commuters, Defund Transit Maintenance, and Undermine Economic Growth

Project 2025 Would Increase Costs for Commuters, Defund Transit Maintenance, and Undermine Economic Growth

How a radical plan to eliminate federal transit funding could devastate local transit systems, hurt families, and undermine economic growth.

Part of a Series
Photo shows a train pulling up to a covered platform with two people standing near the edge
A G train arrives at a subway station in New York City as people wait on the platform, August 2022. (Getty/Gary Hershorn)

This article is part of a series from the Center for American Progress exposing how the sweeping Project 2025 policy agenda would harm all Americans. This new authoritarian playbook, published by the Heritage Foundation, would destroy the 250-year-old system of checks and balances upon which U.S. democracy has relied and give far-right politicians, judges, and corporations more control over Americans’ lives.

In April 2023, an extremist right-wing think tank in Washington, D.C., released a radical blueprint to undermine American democracy and usher in a sweeping set of far-right policy reforms, including policies that would upend local transportation systems from coast to coast and hurt the tens of millions of Americans who rely on them every day. The far-right blueprint is called Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise. The anodyne title belies the destructive ideas within.

Chapter 19 of this far-right blueprint attacks the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). First, the author calls for the elimination of funding for the FTA’s core programs, which provide critical funds to local transit authorities for essential maintenance work. In fiscal year 2024, for example, the FTA provided local transit agencies with more than $14 billion. The author writes that continuing to fund the FTA’s core programs—which collectively helped residents take more than 7 billion trips in 2023—is akin to “throwing good money after bad.”

But that’s not all. The blueprint also proposes eliminating funding for the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, which helps transit authorities expand their systems and improve overall service. In fiscal year 2023, the CIG program provided $4.2 billion to local authorities. Specifically, the author praises the fact that the “Trump Administration urged Congress to eliminate the CIG program” and then suggests that if Congress keeps the program around, it should subject candidate projects to a “rigorous cost-benefit analysis.” Of course, the FTA already subjects candidate projects to an intense, multiyear review that scrutinizes the cost of adding new service in relation to the expected ridership. No matter—the author’s intent is clear: Eliminating CIG would be best.

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If implemented, what would these radical policies mean to everyday Americans? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which operates bus, subway, and commuter rail service in the New York City metropolitan area, provides an example to help answer this question. On average, MTA provides 3.6 million subway, 1.4 million bus, and 343,000 commuter rail rides every day. The agency is the lifeblood of the New York City metro area, connecting millions of people with jobs, health care, and education.

In support of this mission, MTA received $2.1 billion in 2023 from the FTA’s core formula programs. This money will be used to repair the subway system and buy new buses, among other needs. Federal formula funds represent 19 percent of MTA’s capital program from fiscal years 2020–2024. Without these funds, MTA would be forced to defer critical maintenance, slash service, or increase fares to make up for the shortfall. Deferred maintenance quickly leads to harmful consequences such as unexpected and lengthy service outages. Rails, subway cars, electrical systems, and buses all eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Further, delaying essential maintenance can also compound problems and make repairs more costly to finance. New York City needs these critical federal transit funds to remain a world-class city filled with opportunity.

In addition to these formula program funds, the FTA has also committed to funding several major capital projects, including $7.4 billion to help replace the aging Hudson River tunnels, which support Amtrak and NJ Transit commuter service, as well as $3.4 billion for the extension of the Second Avenue subway line. The state of New York and city residents have raised big sums of money for these critical projects. And a continued partnership with the FTA is essential to New York City’s future and finishing these projects.

New York is far from the only area of the country that receives vital federal funding assistance. Nationally, there are 2,147 transit agencies providing service on a daily basis, all of which receive funding from the FTA. Of these, 1,281, or 57 percent, serve rural communities. Transit ridership has rebounded to 79 percent of its pre-COVID-19 level. In 2023, people took 7.1 billion transit trips, roughly half of which (3.5 billion) were by bus. Transit moves Americans where they need to go every day, and it’s essential to the country’s economic production. Without high-quality transit service, Americans would face greater highway congestion and delays, higher transportation costs, and reduced access to jobs. This would serve as a drag on U.S. economic growth and a tax on working Americans.

Funding from the FTA is part of a long-standing and essential partnership between Washington and local transit agencies. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Albuquerque to Minneapolis, public transit is a vital component of the country’s modern transportation system. It provides affordable, safe, and efficient mobility to millions of Americans every day. Ending FTA funding would be a radical and detrimental break with this highly successful federal-local partnership.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Kevin DeGood

Director, Infrastructure Policy


A subway train pulls into the Flushing Avenue station in Brooklyn.

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The far right’s new authoritarian playbook could usher in a sweeping array of dangerous policies.


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