Smart Growth America has taken a look at the stimulus and discovered something that might not seem so obvious: dollars spent on public transportation generate twice as many jobs as the same amount of money spent on highways and bridges.
The data tell us that every billion dollars in public transportation investments made as of October 31 2009 produced roughly an additional 8,000 job-months compared to highway projects. ARRA transportation funds have so far gone disproportionately to highways. If the total road + public transportation funding in the just-passed House jobs bill were invested equally in public transportation and highways, the same outlay would produce 71,415 additional job-months, equivalent to year-round employment for 5,951 additional people.
Public transportation helps preserve urban areas and raise property values along their travel corridors. It brings much less pollution than individual vehicles and saves riders over $9000 a year compared to driving. And public transportation dollars create twice as many jobs as highway dollars.
All very good reasons why more transportation money should be going into public transportation. The next time you see the name of a politician attached to a new highway project, make sure to remind them than their state or district could have been cleaner, greener, more desirable, and better employed by spending that money on public transportation.