Public Transportation - The Economic Stimulus Vehicle

Opinion by Rich Farr, PPTA Chair

Friday, November 14, 2008 | Categories:

During these trying times there is significant concern with rising energy costs and how to stimulate the economy. Many different solutions are offered by the experts to give the economy a boost, such as providing stimulus packages and investing in the nation’s infrastructure. Solid investment in public transportation provides both economic and environmental relief to all. An investment would yield a sustainable result versus the previous one-time economic stimulus package authorized by congress in 2008.

For the first time in history, transportation costs have consumed a larger share of the family budget, surpassing food and health care costs. Household energy costs, including transportation and personal energy needs, are now consuming 25% of the average family income – double the burden since 2000. For some wage earners energy and transportation costs can be eating up half their take-home pay. Transit saves the average commuter approximately $6,200 per year in transportation costs. That allows commuters to reinvest their commuter savings back into the economy. Transit also links people to their jobs, which has an impact on our tax revenues and provides vast economic spin-off benefits.

Jobs are created when government invests in transportation infrastructure. Every time the government invests a billion dollars in the nation’s infrastructure, it creates and supports 47,500 manufacturing, construction, retail and wholesale and service jobs. With additional resources, transit providers have the ability to purchase the goods and services necessary to create jobs while meeting the growing demands in their communities. This type of investment produces great economic benefits that would multiply again and again over diverse areas of our economy.

Traveling by public transportation uses less energy and produces fifty percent less carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions than comparable travel in private vehicles. U.S. transit use saves the equivalent of 300,000 automobile fill-ups each day. Like it or not, our dependence on foreign oil is a serious threat to our national security. Expanded use of public transportation reduces the country’s dependence upon foreign oil.

It is clear that public transportation offers an immediate solution to the country’s economic, energy and environmental concerns. As our nation continues to debate both economic stimulus packages and energy bills, we encourage our leaders to consider the sustainable solutions that public transportation offers.