Saturday, February 6, 2010

Job Creation Impacts of Highways vs. Mass Transit

Cross-posted from

To Create Jobs, Build Public Transit, Not Highways | Autopia |

If we’d spent as much federal stimulus money on public transportation as we spent on highways, we would have created twice as much work and put a bigger dent in the unemployment rate.

That’s the analysis of stimulus spending by Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and U.S. PIRG, the public-policy lobbying group. Smart Growth America found that every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, while the same amount spent on highway infrastructure projects produced 8,781 job-months. Now it is warning that the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 (.pdf), the $154 billion jobs bill the House of Representatives passed last month, could make the same mistake in funding the wrong priorities.

The legislation, which the Senate is expected to take up early this year, would finance everything from renovating schools to putting more cops on the street. It is funded in part with money set aside for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as the Wall Street bailout. The bill allocates $27.1 billion for highways and other surface transportation and just $8.4 billion for public transportation.

That’s a mistake.

“When the Senate takes the bill up and it goes back to the House, they ought to take a look at their own data and readjust the proportions,” William Schroeer, state policy director for Smart Growth America, told “Since it’s a jobs bill, that seems to us to be something they ought to think very seriously about.”

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