Public transit systems nationwide are reeling from the impact of the recession and cuts in government subsidies.
By one survey, more than 80 percent of U.S. transit systems had cut service, raised fares or both since the economic downturn started.
At the same time, many transit systems are seeing increased ridership in response to rising gasoline prices.
Struggling systems have put off new equipment purchases and other upgrades as they struggle to maintain daily operations.
The Federal Transit Administration has pointed to tens of billions of
dollars in deferred maintenance.
The Boston area's aging fleet of commuter rail trains experienced mechanical problems last winter, often causing long delays.
As one potential solution, voters in some states have supported ballot measures to infuse transit with more money.