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Report: Invest More Wisely in Surface Transportation

The National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) of the Bipartisan Policy Center has released a report recommending changes to the federal surface transportation funding program to help promote “a thoughtful, equitable, sustainable, and well-targeted federal approach to transportation policies and investments that help our economy grow, improve the energy and environmental sustainability of our transportation system, and improve the safety and quality of life in our nation.”

The report, Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation, builds on NTPP’s 2009 report, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, to recommend practical near-term actions that will increase performance of the existing federal surface transportation program and make better use of non-federal resources. The earlier report proposed five key goals: economic investment; national connectivity; metropolitan accessibility; energy security and environmental protection; and safety.

“For years there has been overwhelming evidence that the U.S. is failing to maintain its highways, bridges, and transit systems, and consistently falling short in making the infrastructure investments needed to provide for the long-term needs of our growing population and economy,” the report states. “The recognition that we are under-investing in our transportation systems, however, has run headlong into a political and fiscal environment in which expanding federal expenditures for any purpose is increasingly difficult to discuss, much less to enact. In this context it is arguably more important than ever to ensure that all federal resources directed to transportation—albeit never enough to keep pace with the nation’s vast and growing transportation needs—are invested wisely.”

NTPP proposes that the next federal transportation authorization bill consolidate and reorganize programs into 10 focus areas:

* Asset Management, including half of the Surface Transportation Program and Fixed Guideway Modernization;
* Metropolitan Accessibility, incorporating the other half of the Surface Transportation Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, Urbanized Area Formula Grants; and New and Small Starts;
* Freight Transportation Improvement;
* Safety Improvement;
* Federal Transportation, covering Indian reservation and public lands programs;
* Rural Connectivity, with transportation community and system preservation and formula grants for other than urbanized areas;
* Federal Support for Supplemental Revenue, such as the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act;
* State and Metropolitan Planning Program;
* Data, Research, and Education; and
* Essential Access, including Job Access and Reverse Commute and formula grants for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The full text of the report is available here.


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