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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



 We Make Communities Go Campaign To Highlight Transits Benefits To National And Local Economies


Transit News

Business Group Calls on Congress to Pass Transportation Funding Bill

February 17, 2005

(Download In Adobe PDF Format)

WASHINGTON - Business members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) are here today to announce "We Make Communities Go," a campaign to broaden public awareness about the importance of transit in the American economy and the need for Congress to pass the six-year transportation funding bill that has been stalled since last summer.

To launch the campaign, business members delivered a letter to Members of Congress highlighting the link between transit funding and economic growth, and urging swift passage of the reauthorization of the TEA 21 surface transportation program. (A copy of the letter to Congress is attached.)

APTA members will be working with community and business groups across the country to spread that message over the next several months while Congress debates reauthorization of the transportation spending bill. The campaign will showcase public transportation's economic contributions at the grassroots level.

The public transportation industry employs 375,000 workers who operate, maintain and manage all modes of transit across the United States. In addition to this direct employment, public transportation supports tens of thousands of other transit-related jobs in engineering, construction, manufacturing, and retail and service businesses.

Each year, America's public transportation systems put approximately $37.6 billion back into local, state and national economies. The transit industry spends $12.8 billion on capital expenditures and $24.8 billion on operating expenses. Capital funds are used to finance infrastructure needs such as new construction and modernization of existing facilities -- and nearly all of that capital investment flows into the private sector.

"Public transportation is an integral part of the American economy," said Kim Green, APTA Vice Chair of Business Members.

"Investing in transit creates jobs and spurs new economic activity at a rate of $6 for every $1 invested," added Green. "If that investment continues to be delayed, so too does economic growth."

By raising awareness about the economic benefits of transit, APTA's business members hope the "We Make Communities Go" campaign will accelerate Congressional approval of a fully-funded transportation reauthorization bill during this first session of the 109th Congress. The extension of the existing legislation expires in May 2005.

With the bill languishing, billions of well-invested dollars and thousands of jobs remain in limbo.

For instance:

  • Every dollar taxpayers invest in public transportation generates up to $6 in economic returns, which translates into higher revenues for cities and states.

  • Businesses realize a gain in sales three times the public sector investment in transit capital. A study by Cambridge Systematics estimates that each $10 million in capital investment yields $30 million in increased sales, while each $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million more in sales.

  • Businesses also benefit from transit operations spending, with a $32 million increase in business sales for each $10 million in transit operations spending.

  • The additional economic benefits from transit investment in major metropolitan areas are substantial. For every $10 million invested, over $15 million is saved in transportation costs to both highway and transit users. These costs include operating costs, fuel costs, and congestion costs.

  • Business output and personal income are positively impacted by transit investment, growing rapidly over time. Public transportation creates savings to business operations and increases the overall efficiency of the economy, positively affecting business sales and household incomes. A sustained program of transit capital investment will generate an increase of $2 million in business output and $0.8 million in personal income for each $10 million in the short run (during year one). In the long term (during year 20), these benefits increase to $31 million and $18 million for business output and personal income respectively.

  • Transit capital and operating investment generates personal income and business profits that produce positive fiscal impacts. On average, a typical state/local government could realize a 4 to 16 percent gain in revenues due to the increases in income and employment generated by investments in transit.

  • Using transit saves communities and businesses money. In cities that have large rail systems, residents and businesses see a total road and parking savings of $20 billion annually as a result of 6.1 million vehicles not being on the roads or in parking garages that don't need to be built.

  • Business leaders see the benefits of public transportation. Almost half of the nation's Fortune 500 companies, representing over $2 trillion in annual revenue, are headquartered in America's transit-intensive metropolitan areas.

  • "Public transportation doesn't just move people; it moves the economy," said APTA President William W. Millar. "We must continue to invest in transit so that we can continue to provide jobs and economic opportunities."

For more information about how public transportation contributes to the American economy, please visit


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APTA is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning, design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions, and state associations and departments of transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical public transportation services and products. Over ninety percent of persons using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA members.


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