transportation

Facts

Most agree the feds should help out with transportation infrastructure, but last year's transportation bill got messy because of the unusual amount of “pork” – fatty pet projects doled out to keep local voters happy - that made it into the legislation. Other transportation issues that come up in transportation are the amount of money spent on our infrastructure, security in a post 9/11 world, and an always struggling train system.

People on the go

  • Miles Americans travel a year: 5 trillion in 2002 (BTS).

  • How we travel (BTS):

    • 53% in cars;

    • 34% in light trucks

    • 10% by air;

    • 3% by public bus

    • 1% by other public transportation.

  • How much US households spend on transportation: $7,681 (2003 in 2000 dollars) (BTS).
    The Census' number for household out-of-pocket transportation expenses is $7,781 (2003 in 2000 dollars), which is 19% of household spending. When looking at all consumer spending (not just out-of-pocket), transportation only accounts for 12% (medical care, which is mostly paid not out-of-pocket, mostly explains the difference, we think). (CB - pdf)

Moving freight around

  • Total ton-miles freight is moved around: 4.4 trillion miles in 2002 (BTS)

  • How it moves around:

    • 37% by rail;

    • 29% by truck;

    • 14% by water;

    • 20% by pipeline;

    • less than 1% by air

Infrastructure

  • Governmental spending on maintaining transportation infrastructure: $149.0 billion in 2000 (in 1996 dollars) (BTS); 63% goes towards highways. Who's paying (AASHTO):

    • Feds: 24%;

    • States: 51.7%;

    • Localities: 24.3%.

  • Costs of congestion - in the 85 most congested cities (APTA):

    • How much time Americans lose sitting in traffic:

      • 2003: 47 hours a year,

      • 1982: 16 hours a year.

    • Annual financial cost of traffic congestion (in 2002 dollars):

      • 1982: $14 billion,

      • 2003: $63 billion.

    • Total wasted fuel from idling in traffic jams:

      • 2003: 2.3 billion gallons, but this number is fishy, as the same report said 5.6 billion gallons were lost in 2002 (TTI) (In perspective: American drivers burn a total of 137 billion gallons of gas a year - EIA)

      • 1982: 0.4 billion gallons.

Pork

  • So what is pork?
    - Affectionate term for money spent on "pet projects" for Congress members. No one will go on record to support pork spending, but its practice is widely tolerated on Capitol Hill.

  • Amount of pork in the transportation bill (as of May 2004):

    • the 2004 version: $11 billion out of $275 billion (CNN)

    • the 2005 version: $12.4 billion our of $284 billion (TCS)

  • Number of "earmarks" (individual pet projects that make up pork):

    • in 2005 transportation bill: 4,128 (TCS) - 3,800 (NYT)

    • in 2004 version of the bill: 3,248 (Progress);

    • in 1998 transportation act: 1,850 (Heritage);

    • in 1991 transportation act: 538 (Heritage);

    • in 1981 transportation act: under 10 (Heritage).

Amtrak

  • How much the federal government gives Amtrak a year:

    • $1.2 billion (set aside for 2005 - WP)

Where the facts are from:

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