Category Archives: Transportation

Job Impacts of Spending on Public Transportation: an Update

Source: American Public Transportation Association, White Paper, April 29, 2009

From the press release:
A new study released today shows that investing in public transportation provides jobs to the American workers who may need them the most. Job Impacts of Spending on Public Transportation: an Update shows that two-thirds (67 percent) of the jobs created by capital investment in the public transit industry replaces lost blue-collar jobs with “green jobs” in the public transit sector. The Economic Development Research Group prepared the study for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Overall, the study shows an investment of one billion dollars in public transportation supports and creates 30,000 jobs in a variety of sectors. Based on these projections, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which provides $8.4 billion for public transportation projects, will create approximately 252,000 jobs for Americans and help transit systems meet the steadily growing demand for public transit services. APTA released the study at the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing Recovery Act: 10-Week Progress Report for Transportation and Infrastructure Programs.
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Green Cities

Source: Living Cities, May 2009

This report, “Green Cities,” is our effort to showcase and support the innovative ways in which cities are creating an equitable green economy. The report is based on conversations with the brightest thinkers in the field, and the findings from our survey of 40 of the country’s largest cities. “Green Cities” takes a step back to see what cities have accomplished, while also identifying areas in which their efforts have fallen short.

“Green Cities” focuses on the three areas in which we see significant headway being made and opportunity for further progress: building energy retrofits, green workforce development and transit-oriented development. Not only do local leaders identify these areas as priorities, but the recently passed stimulus bill brings extraordinary new resources to these activities.

Transportation Challenges for the New Administration Perspectives of Past DOT Secretaries

Source: Liisa Ecola, RAND Corporation, 2009

From the summary:
On January 29, 2009 (one week after President Barack Obama’s inauguration), the RAND Corporation hosted a panel discussion with three former U.S. secretaries of transportation: William T. Coleman, Jr. (who served as secretary from 1975 to 1977), James H. Burnley IV (1987-1989), and Rodney Slater (1997-2000). These conference proceedings summarize the former secretaries’ comments on such topics as which issues should be among the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) top priorities, DOT funding sources and the reauthorization of DOT appropriation bills, earmarking and transparency in the transportation funding process, and the federal role in transportation policy.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Oversight challenges facing the Dept. of Transportation

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Report Number: MH-2009-046, March 31, 2009

On February 17, 2009, the President signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which designated over $48 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOT).1 This audit report represents the second product in the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) review of DOT’s implementation of ARRA.2 The objective of this audit was to highlight key DOT oversight challenges–based on prior OIG reports and other agencies’ relevant audit work–and identify actions DOT should take now in support of ARRA requirements.

According to the Secretary of Transportation, ARRA represents “the largest investment in America’s roads, bridges, transit lines, and rail systems since the creation of the interstate highway system.” Key provisions of ARRA are preserving and creating jobs, promoting economic recovery, and investing in transportation infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits. In addition to providing funding for a number of existing DOT programs, ARRA directs DOT to create several new programs and establishes tight time frames for distributing and expending funds and for reporting results (for example, the number of jobs created).

Making Transportation Sustainable: Insights from Germany

Source: Ralph Buehler, John Pucher, Uwe Kunert, Brookings Institution, April 16, 2009

From the summary:
This report examines the key differences and determinants of travel behavior in Germany and the United States. Americans travel by car twice as much per year as Germans and use transit only a sixth as much. Differences in car reliance between the United States and Germany are not solely due to income or residential density. Germans in the highest income quartile make a lower share of their trips by car than Americans in the lowest income quartile. And Germans living in low density areas travel by car about as much as Americans living at population densities five times higher.

The result is a transportation system in the United States that is less sustainable than in Germany. The per capita carbon footprint of passenger transportation in the United States is about three times larger than in Germany. Although gas prices in the United States are half those in Germany, Americans spend five percent more of their budgets on transportation than Germans. In government outlays as well (federal, state and local), Germany spends less per capita on transportation than the United States.

Infrastructure Ventures

Source: Urban Land, April 2009
(subscription required)

Urban Land looks at infrastructure issues in light of the U.S. federal economic stimulus plan and the opportunities and challenges it poses for the development community. Articles include:

Structured Parking for Transit-Oriented Development

By Timothy H. Haahs and James M. Zullo
Federal stimulus money could be used to bridge the financial gap associated with the cost of structured parking in transit-oriented development projects and provide a meaningful strategy to advance such projects and smart growth.

U.S. Infrastructure Spending: How Much Is Enough?

By Sarah Jo Peterson
Although the private sector does invest in infrastructure, much, if not most, of the billions in spending comes from taxpayers. How much is enough? The guidance of engineers, economists, and environmental innovators shows that the answer depends on what people want out of infrastructure.

Transportation Reauthorization Options

By Jeffery Spivak
A virtual who’s who of transportation associations and interest groups is calling for an entirely new federal approach in the next long-term transportation bill.

Infrastructure 2009: Pivot Point

Source: Urban Land Institute, April 2009
(subscription required)

This report looks at global solutions and creative approaches to dealing with infrastructure issues. This edition covers:
– Stimulus spending and decision making
– Land use and transportation
– Bus rapid transit
– National Infrastructure Commission
– American Infrastructure Bank
– Parking
– Water management
– Public/private partnerships

Transit and Health: Mode of Transport, Employer-Sponsored Public Transit Pass Programs, and Physical Activity

Source: Ugo Lachapelle and Lawrence D. Frank, Journal of Public Health Policy, April 2009

Mounting evidence reveals a significant association between walking and neighborhood design (i.e., the presence or absence of intersecting streets or sidewalks, and proximity of homes to schools, parks, and shopping), although causality has yet to be established. To date, little research has assessed the relationships between transit use and walking, the importance of transit use as a potential confounder of neighborhood walkability (i.e., how friendly the built environment is for people to live in and conduct daily activities), and the impact of transportation incentive programs or Travel Demand Management on walking for transportation. Because transit trips (e.g., by bus or train) often involve walking, transit users may be more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity regardless of their neighborhood of residence. Moreover, it is likely that the provision of good quality transit service is a necessary condition to reduce high levels of car ownership, which discourages active transportation (e.g., walking or bicycling). Once someone has a car, the habit of driving may reduce the frequency of transit and non-motorized trips. The current study evaluates transit use and employer-sponsored public transit passes and their relationship to achieving recommended levels of physical activity through walking for transportation.

Transportation investments and the labor market: How many jobs could be generated and what type?

Source: Josh Bivens, John Irons, and Ethan Pollack Economic Policy Institute, EPI Issue Brief #252, April 7, 2009

In February, Congress passed a $787 billion stimulus package–the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)–which included substantial new funding for infrastructure investment. From a macroeconomic perspective, this is good news: infrastructure spending as economic stimulus provides a high economic “bang-for-the-buck” (that is, extra output and employment created through each dollar increase in the federal deficit) and stands near the top of the list of proposals to spur economic recovery.1 The largest chunk of this investment focuses on transportation infrastructure, which is likely to provide even more bang-for-the-buck than generic infrastructure investment.

Over the longer-run, if the ARRA represents a broader and more permanent commitment to the maintenance and improvement of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, it could have large labor market implications beyond just lowering the unemployment rate in the current recession. For example, since the mix of jobs produced by transportation investments–relative to the overall economy–tips toward sectors that disproportionately employ workers without a college degree and unionized workers, the long-run job-market impacts of transportation investments may push back against the growing economic inequality that has characterized the U.S. economy for decades.

This Issue Brief summarizes some findings on the job impact–both the number and the kinds of jobs created– from investments in transportation infrastructure. In particular, we estimate that each $100 billion of new infrastructure spending targeted to modernize the American transportation sector would yield:
• Approximately $160 billion in additional economic output, which translates into roughly 1.1 million net new jobs created in the next two years.

• An increase in the relative wages of those 70% of U.S. workers without a college degree by almost 0.4% each year each year the the increased commitment to transportation persists. While modest, this amount does represent a wage increase for high school graduates that is roughly 40% as large as the entire increase this group has seen since 1979.

• An increase of roughly 125,000 unionized jobs in the United States, even if all of the jobs supported through this transportation spending merely displaced currently existing jobs (which is unlikely).