The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently released a study titled, The Economic Cost of Failing to Modernize Public Transportation. The study analyzes the potential impact of failing to invest in the modernization of America’s public transportation infrastructure. The study conclusions echoes ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card’s finding of public transit as a “D-”, the lowest grade received by any U.S. category of infrastructure. It also reveals that in the next six years alone, failure to invest in these systems will cause a loss of $340 billion in cumulative business sales, $109 billion in disposable income for American families, and 162,000 jobs. More specifically, the report states that areas where infrastructure modernization has not occurred are less resilient than those that are up to date.
APTA’s study focuses on the economic benefits connected to improved infrastructure, and future costs associated with a lack of action. Furthermore, the study provides insight into addressing infrastructure modernization through case study analysis of six areas: San Francisco, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
State of Good Repair (SGR), also known as public transportation infrastructure modernization, has become increasingly difficult to attain given the continual funding constraints. With a growing population, it is important that we address the issue and improve our failing transportation systems. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) took notice reporting that “establishing relationships between SGR investments and performance effects … would help agencies make prioritization decisions and justify funding.”
Although “transit agencies do a remarkable job of protecting system users from failures”, delayed action and investment from Capitol Hill is leading to significant, long-term economic costs costing each American family $3,400 per year, or $9 a day, according to ASCE’s Failure to Act report. Moving forward, the study suggests advocating for secured funding on the state and national levels, a suggestion parallel to ASCE’s recommendations. It’s time to begin to hold politicians on all levels accountable to their campaign promises of large-scale infrastructure investment, inclusive of significant funding for public transit systems.