Public Transit Has an Exceptional ROI. Let’s Get on Board to Speed Economic Recovery.
It is ironic that, while avoiding public transit was crucial to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic’s curve, investing in our nation’s public transportation will be crucial in lifting our nation out of the economic crisis caused by the virus.
As Congress begins piecing together a stimulus package focused on getting folks back to work, we urge lawmakers to include robust funding for public transportation.
To say that public transit is a catalyst for job creation and economic growth is an understatement. For every $1 billion invested in public transportation, 50,000 jobs are created and sustained across industries. And every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $5 in economic returns felt across society.
Beyond the construction and manufacturing jobs created from transit-related maintenance projects, public transit is also integral to connecting jobseekers to potential employers. Building new (or repairing current) public transportation facilities in communities with high unemployment produces up to 2.5X more jobs than locating it in communities with lower levels of unemployment.
A study of the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the last major stimulus bill in American history, found that spending on public transportation had an incredible return-on-investment, generating 31% more jobs per dollar than the construction of new roads and bridges.
Investing in public transportation will also make our nation more productive for decades to come by reducing road congestion. Traffic congestion cost Americans $87 billion in lost productivity in 2018.
Matching investment dollars with high-priority projects will not be difficult: The Federal Transit Administration estimates that there is currently a $98 billion backlog in deferred transit maintenance projects. The Alliance is asking Congress to increase funding to the following federal transit grant programs:
- The State of Good Repair Program, which provides funding to help transit agencies maintain assets in a state of good repair.
- The Urbanized Area Formula Program, which provides grants for public transportation in cities with more than 50,000 people.
- The Bus and Bus Facilities Program, which provides competitive grants for states, municipalities, and localities to purchase electric buses and electric bus charging infrastructure.
The cost of updating our nation’s public transportation cost is pennies in couch cushions compared to the economic benefits. And it’s exactly the type of investment our economy will need to recover. Let’s get to work.