NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Shun Mass Transit Projects

May 19, 2000

The federal government doles out billions of dollars to states to spend on transportation projects. But the vast majority of them spend less than 10 percent on mass transit -- preferring instead to fund highway projects, according to a forthcoming Brookings Institution study.

  • From fiscal year 1992 through fiscal 1999, states had more than $33.8 billion in federal funding available to spend on transportation -- but only about 12.5 percent of that went to mass transit.
  • New York and California accounted for nearly half of the $4.2 billion spent on mass transit.
  • Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming used none of their allotted money on mass transit.
  • Washington, D.C. devoted 46.6 percent of its allotment to mass transit -- followed by Massachusetts at 42.1 percent.
  • Only 14 states and the District of Columbia devoted more than 10 percent of their funds to mass transit projects.

Even states with thriving urban centers -- such as Florida, Texas and Colorado -- spent less than 5 percent of their available federal money on such projects.

Experts say that for many people mass transit isn't a viable option. They point out that jobs have spread to the suburbs and working parents run three or four errands a day going to and from work.

Yet Congress earmarked unprecedented amounts of money to build rail systems and improve bus lines during the 1990s. And in fact, ridership on mass transit is the highest in 40 years.

Source: Scott Bowles, "Study Finds States Aren't Hopping onto Mass Transit," USA Today, May 19, 2000.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues