The Campaign Spot

Trying To Find Details on Those Job-Creating State Mass Transit Projects

Towards the end of the Democrats’ stimulus bill draft:

Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion. Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.

Strangely, if you go to the American Public Transportation Association’s web page, that list of projects can’t be found (or at least I can’t find it; either way, it’s not prominently featured for search and scrutiny). You can find that in January of last year, they and other public transit groups did offer a breakdown by state and cost.

Interestingly, several states list no number of projects desired, just listing a cash amount. California, for example, did not list any projects, but is still allocated $5 billion in their chart. Delaware lists none, but still is listed at $125 million. Maryland, $230 million. North Dakota, $300 million.

There’s quite a variety in the number of projects, according to their chart. Alaska and Connecticut are fairly modest with 4 and 5 projects respectively. By comparison, Texas has 853 projects, and Georgia and Pennsylvania 319 each. But that’s separate from cost; the highest bill of all the states is… Utah, with 136 projects costing $10.8 billion.

But the numbers thrown around for cost and for benefit keep moving around. On APTA’s site, there is a January 7 “action alert” urging members to call their representatives and tell them:

Point out that if $47.8 billion were invested in public transportation immediately, more than 1.3 million green jobs could be supported in the next two years.

Hmm. If every last dime of that “investment” were passed on to the workers, that would come out to $36,769.23 before taxes. But they’re talking about over a span of two years, which comes out to $18,384.61 per worker per year. Of course, large chunks of that “investment” would be spent on concrete, train cars, rails, signals, etc.

Of course, back on December 7, APTA was saying in releases:

Over a period of two years, an estimated $32.4 billion in transit investment projects could be started that would create more than 900,000 jobs.

That comes out to $32,727.27 per job, or $16,363.65 per job per year.

But wait, back in October, APTA was telling Congress

APTA has recently completed a national survey of transit systems, and we have identified more than $8 billion in “ready-to-go” projects that could begin within 90 days of federal funding being made available. 

Is a side-effect of the stimulus debate that every figure- cost, jobs created, etc.  just gets bigger as the discussion continues? Is this what they mean by inflation?


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