Public Transportation Projects Create More Jobs than Building Highways

Media Contacts
Jason Donofrio

Groups State New Jobs Bill Might Be a Missed Opportunity

Arizona PIRG

Stimulus money invested in public transportation projects created twice as many jobs as highway projects, according to a new report released today by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG), in conjunction with the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Smart Growth America.

According to the report, What We Learned From the Stimulus, and How to Use What We Learned to Speed Job Creation in the 2010 Jobs Bill, every billion dollars spent from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, as compared to 8,781 job-months for every billion spent on highway infrastructure. 

However, according to Arizona PIRG, if the U.S. Senate does not make changes to Congress’ latest jobs bill this month, it will miss an opportunity to create more jobs, while reducing oil use and carbon emissions, by funding public transportation.

“If we are serious about creating jobs and bringing about the economic recovery that Arizona desperately needs, we should be investing a greater percentage of transportation funds in public transportation,” said Jesse Victor, Transportation Associate for Arizona PIRG.

The report also debunks the myth that public transportation projects are not as “shovel-ready” or able to be launched as quickly as highway projects.  In fact, a higher percentage of ARRA transit investment has moved into the economy than spending for highways so far, and the speed of spending has varied little across public transportation and highway infrastructure projects, suggesting there is no reason to prioritize funding categories based on the rate of spending.

The report concludes that the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847), passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2009, missed an opportunity to create the most possible jobs in Arizona.  Similar to ARRA, the bill provides more than three times as much funding for highway projects, even though public transportation investments have been shown to create more jobs faster.  

“As the U.S. Senate prepares to take up a jobs bill, lawmakers should learn the lessons of the Recovery Act,” added Victor.  “Public transportation projects create more jobs than road projects because they spend less on land and more on labor.  Investments in public transportation produce the most jobs and prevent some of the sweeping service cuts that are making it harder for working people to get to their jobs.”

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