Analysis Finds that Funding Public Transit Creates More Jobs Than Funding Highway Projects

In a new analysis of ten months’ worth of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) data released last week by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, three public interest and smart growth groups found that for every billion dollars spent on public transportation projects, 16,419 job-months were created. A billion dollars spent on highway infrastructure projects created only 8,781 job-months.

CNT, Smart Growth America, and U.S. PIRG analyzed the new data released and found that stimulus money spent on public transportation projects created almost double the number of “job-months” as money spent on highway infrastructure projects.

CNT President, Scott Bernstein, put those findings into perspective in light of the new $154 billion jobs bill passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday, “In the middle of a recession, the principle for setting a priority for public spending should be to “leave no job behind”.  Since the federal government’s own numbers show that dollar for dollar transit investments produced as many or more jobs as did highway investments, the new jobs bill should reflect balance in the choice between these two kinds of opportunities.”

These figures are calculated from data provided by the states through October 31, and released by the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on December 10.


As Congress and the Administration discuss the jobs bill, the implication is clear: shifting available funds toward public transportation will create more jobs.

Learn more in this fact sheet.

4 Responses to “Analysis Finds that Funding Public Transit Creates More Jobs Than Funding Highway Projects”

  1. Steven Vance Says:

    Why is this? Why does transit create more jobs than highway projects dollar for dollar?

    So far, my only answer is that it funds jobs longer term because of the people needed to operate the vehicles, maintain them, and plan and supervise services. I’m not so sure this is a reason, though. I know the CTA used millions of dollars to buy new buses and to pay back loans for the Brown Line station rehab project.

  2. Let’s Go KC » Stimulus money spent on transit produces twice as many jobs as highways Says:

    [...] A new analysis of data from the federal economic stimulus reveals that investment in public transit has produced almost twice as many jobs money invested in highways.  Every $1 billion spent on roads and highways resulted in about 8,700 months of work.  For transit, it was over 16,000 months of work for the same investment. [...]

  3. annette Says:

    Hi Steven,
    The jobs counts include both job retention and job creation; by investing in preventative maintenance we keep the system going which keeps operators employed instead of laid off.

    The transit rebuilds (such as rebuilding the downtown subway) are more complex than road rebuilding, more trades involved (e.g. electrical trades, computer programming).

    Rebuilding fixed guideway systems actually goes faster because you have a smaller number of larger projects to let for bid, as opposed to say pavement projects, which is a larger number of smaller projects.

    FYI, tomorrow we are releasing a more in-depth report on our research, complete with our recommendations as the Senate reviews the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847). Check back for the release and report. Thanks for your interest.

  4. “When I have nothing to say….” | hugeasscity Says:

    [...] we have learned that a stimulus dollar spent on transit provides about twice as many jobs as a dollar spent [...]