Obama's $50 Billion Infrastructure Job Program Could Increase Impact with Focus on Funding Local Transit


President Obama this week announced a proposed $50 billion initiative to upgrade America's transportation infrastructure.  The proposal includes an infrastructure bank; a plan to rebuild 150,000 miles of roads; projects to construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail; and an initiative to rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway and install a new air traffic control system.

Transportation for America called the plan “fundamental to the long-term health of our economy...The President today has promised to press for carefully targeted investments in those projects that compete best in satisfying clearly articulated national goals for energy security, safety, affordability, environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness."

More Jobs from Transit Spending:  While this infrastructure spending is desperately needed, and the focus on upgrading the nation's rail system will have broad economic impacts, the immediate job creation impact could be increased through greater support for local transit projects as well, as a new report by the Transportation Equity Network emphasizes. 

According to the report, each billion dollars spent on transit creates 36,108 jobs while the same money spent on roads yields only 30,319.   Even more dramatically, spending some of the money directly on local transit operations would actually generate 41,140 jobs for each billion dollars spent.  Transit systems across the country have been raising fares, cutting service, and shedding jobs since the onset of the recession, and the crisis is far from over.

This report reinforces the findings of other recent reports (here and here) that analyze the greater job creation potential of funding transit compared to roads.