Click here for full audio of press briefing.

Washington, DC.  Decades of under investment in America’s aging bus and rail public transit infrastructure has a negative effect on business revenue, and results in lost jobs and wages, according to a new study from the American Public Transportation Association.

Failing to address America’s $90 billion backlog of public transit modernization needs, also referred to as State of Good Repair, results in a loss of $340 billion in business revenue to the U.S. economy over a six-year period.  This is based on the study The Economic Cost of Failing to Modernize Public Transportation, which was conducted by the Economic Development Research Group Inc. for APTA.  The study was released during National Infrastructure Week which is held May 14 – 18.

The authors of the report examined the public transportation modernization needs nationwide and performed in-depth case studies of six transit systems: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).  The report also examined modernization needs in bus and bus facilities which were applicable to systems like the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).

“Our failure as a nation to address America’s public transit modernization needs has wide-ranging negative effects because lost time in travel makes a region’s economy less productive,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Congress has an opportunity in the current fiscal year 2019 Appropriations process to help address the nation’s aging public transit infrastructure.”

Modernization deficiencies in the nation’s public transit infrastructure result in a decrease of $180 billion in Gross National Product.  This includes a loss of $109 billion in household income over six years and 162,000 jobs over the same time frame.  The authors of the study note that failure to modernize the nation’s aging public transit infrastructure adds time and delays to commutes.  This in turn slows down workers’ economic output which directly impacts business sales in a regional economy.

In addition, the quality of businesses that locate in an area is tied to the efficiency of a transportation system, and this directly impacts workers’ earning potential.  For example, officials at Amazon are searching for a second headquarters in North America.  With the addition of this new $5 billion facility, Amazon will generate 50,000 high-paying jobs with yearly salaries of $100,000 or more.  Amazon’s project summary describes the importance of an efficient transportation system as a part of its ideal location requirements.  Specifically, the company notes “optimal access to mass transit – direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, and bus routes.”

“We thank Congress for their recent bi-partisan effort in passing its fiscal year 2018 budget and the President for signing it.  This budget included significant increases in federal investment in public transit,” said Skoutelas.  “While this is a positive step forward in helping to address the nation’s aging public transit infrastructure, this momentum must be maintained by providing similar funding levels for 2019.”

Skoutelas added, “We are also calling on the Administration and Congress to address the urgency of the Highway Trust Fund solvency which expires in just over two years. This will provide predictable, multi-year funding to not only address America’s deteriorating infrastructure, but provide for continued investment to help grow the nation’s economy.”

America’s aging public transit infrastructure is in grave need of investment.  In their latest report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the nation’s public transportation infrastructure a D minus.  That is the lowest grade ASCE gave to any category of U.S. infrastructure.


Public transit leaders and a member of Congress discussed the importance of modernizing our local public transportation assets. 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
“Investing in our roads, bridges, public transportation, energy grid and IT infrastructure is an investment in our nation, our economy and our families. More than ever before, public transportation is providing a stable source of mobility for large segments of our workforce in southeastern Pennsylvania. The latest report released by APTA highlights the economic cost of failing to modernize our public transportation systems and the resulting economic impact. Public transportation agencies, like SEPTA, are facing a critical backlog of repairs preventing them from attaining a state of good repair. Congress must focus on these unaddressed needs to ensure a viable public transportation system in the decade to come. Our economy and our workforce demand it.”

Jeffrey D. Knueppel, General Manager, SEPTA
“In large, densely populated metropolitan regions like Greater Philadelphia, public transportation supports and enables world-class economic productivity that would otherwise not be possible.  Transit systems that are not in a state of good repair, or cannot grow to meet future needs, will limit their region’s true economic potential.  In Pennsylvania, Act 89 has enabled SEPTA to successfully begin to address its significant backlog of unmet infrastructure needs.  It is critical that state and federal investment in public transportation continues to grow to ensure that transit systems, like SEPTA, are able to fulfill their key role in supporting the economy.”

Dorval R. Carter, Jr., President of the CTA
“As a legacy system that’s more than 100 years old, the CTA has, for many years, faced the challenge of fixing or replacing aging infrastructure—including parts of our rail system that date back to the late 1800s.  We are facing an unmet—and growing—capital need of nearly $13 billion and meeting it has become even more challenging giving funding constraints not only at the federal level, but especially at the state and local levels.”

Jeffrey Parker, General Manger & CEO, MARTA
“MARTA has effectively managed its local funding source to maintain a state of good repair.  But as the population of metro Atlanta surges to 6 million with projections of 8 million by 2040, we must receive funding and support from the federal government in order to meet the transit needs of a rapidly growing population.”

Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, SFMTA
“Talk of public transit infrastructure is not always the most sexy and exciting issue in the country, but it is critically important to the vitality and the economy of our regions.  In cities, like San Francisco, we have both aging pains and growing pains to deal with as we keep the system in a state of good repair and running reliably for the people who need it today.”

Joanna Pinkerton, President/CEO, COTA
“Based on recent surveys of our riders in Central Ohio, we know 70 percent of our customers rely on our service to reach work; this is just one example of why it is vital to continue investment in public transportation infrastructure to support residents and the economy.  It is estimated our Central Ohio region will add up to 1 million residents and 600,000 jobs in the next 30 years, so our ability to innovate and evolve will be essential to accommodate this growth in an economically sustainable way for all residents.”

Click on each system below to view a summary of the modernization/state of good repair needs as well as local and regional impacts on jobs, gross national product, and effect on regional economic business sales. The transit system case studies include:

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago, IL

To read the full report go to​.

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organization which represent a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.​​
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