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Bruce Speight,
WISPIRG

New Jobs Data Shows Public Transportation Investments Produce More Jobs, More Quickly

For Immediate Release

Madison, WI- Today, the Joint Committee on Finance will hold an informational hearing on the oversight of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds and the jobs it has created and saved in Wisconsin. The Committee should note that the latest stimulus spending data shows that investments in public transportation projects produce more jobs, more quickly, than investments in highway construction projects. In addition to producing the most jobs for the money, public transportation projects build the transportation systems we need for the future while reducing oil consumption, global warming pollution, and traffic congestion.

“It is clear that prioritizing investments in public transportation projects over investments in highway construction projects would benefit Wisconsin in the short run by creating more jobs, more quickly, and in the long run by building a 21st century transportation system for the state.” said WISPIRG Advocate Johanna Lathrop.

The latest data on stimulus spending shows that investments in public transportation projects create more jobs than investments in highway construction projects. In the ten months since ARRA was signed, investing in public transportation has produced twice as many jobs as investing in roads. According to data released today by WISPIRG, Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Smart Growth America, every billion dollars spent on public transportation projects produced 16,400 job-months. Every billion dollars spent on projects funded under highway infrastructure programs produced 8,000 job-months.

Despite the evidence that investment in public transportation projects creates more jobs than highway construction projects, ARRA funding in Wisconsin is disproportionately skewed toward highway projects. Out of the largest transportation funding program, the Surface Transportation Program, Wisconsin has obligated $529 million for state and local highway capital projects, but only $81.6 million for transit. These funds are fully eligible for capital investments in public transit projects.

Testimony this Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office before the U.S. House of Representatives also confirmed that ARRA funding to create jobs through public transportation projects is being spent faster than funding for construction projects.

“Clearly, ARRA transportation funds could create jobs more quickly by investing more in buses and rail.” concluded Lathrop.  “As both Congress and the state of Wisconsin debate future investments in transportation, they should learn from these results.”

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