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Report: Transit Stimulus Spending Gives More Bang for Buck

January 7, 2010

PHOENIX - More people could be put to work under a new federal jobs bill if public transportation spending is increased. That's the conclusion of a new report from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

Their analysis of the original federal stimulus package shows almost twice as many jobs created per billion dollars of spending on transit compared to the same dollars spent on highways. The reason is simple, says Jesse Victor, transportation associate with Arizona PIRG.

"Public transportation projects create more jobs than road projects because they spend less on land and more on labor."

Victor says the nation's public transit systems have a huge backlog of unmet needs. Census figures show nearly half of U.S. households have no access to public transportation of any kind.

Victor says if Congress is serious about creating the most jobs possible, the "Jobs for Main Street Act" currently before the U.S. Senate should be modified to shift more dollars to public transportation.

"This new 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."

Victor says public transit projects also benefit people who have jobs and communities in general.

"They allow people easier access to get to their jobs, as they exist, if they don't have cars. Public transportation also reduces carbon emissions and lessens our carbon footprint on the environment."

Victor says Arizona could immediately benefit from additional park-and-ride facilities and restoration of recently eliminated bus routes.

The analysis is based on a joint report with Smart Growth America, available at www.smartgrowthamerica.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ