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Madison, Wis. – Stimulus funds invested in public transportation projects created twice as many jobs as funds invested in highway projects, according to a new report released today by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), in conjunction with the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Smart Growth America.
Therefore, if the Senate doesn’t 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.
According to the report, What We Learned From the Stimulus, every billion dollars spent from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, as compared to 8,781 job-months for every billion spent on highway infrastructure. What We Learned From the Stimulus is available on the WISPIRG website here.
“This is a no-brainer. Congress can create more jobs, more quickly, by building the transportation system we need for the 21st century,” said WISPIRG Advocate Johanna Lathrop. “If we are serious about creating jobs and bringing about the economic recovery that Wisconsin desperately needs, we should be investing a greater percentage of the transportation funds in public transportation.”
What We Learned From the Stimulus also debunks the myth that public transportation projects are not able to be launched as quickly as highway projects.
In fact, a higher percentage of ARRA funds invested in transit projects has already moved into the economy than those invested in highway projects. Additionally, 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.
What We Learned From the Stimulus concludes that the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847), passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December, missed an opportunity to create the most possible jobs in Wisconsin.
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 Senate prepares to take up a jobs bill, lawmakers should learn the lessons of the Recovery Act,” added Lathrop. “We cannot afford to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. The fact is investments in public transportation will produce the most jobs and prevent some of the sweeping service cuts that are making it harder for working people to get where they need to go.”
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