Average Amount Spent on Transportation Sector Programs That May Provide a Subsidy in FY2008, Per Household
Households = 116,783,000
Estimates rely on government data which can be inaccurate. Overall we believe the estimates to be lower bounds due to missing data in federal data sets. In cases where we know the omissions are significant we will note that an estimate is 'unknown'. Per household figure is calculated using data from the March 2008 Current Population Survey
. Estimates calculated as of September 2009.
Transportation Sector Updates
October 18, 2010
Building on an earlier analysis Subsidyscope released in November 2009, which illustrated that user fees are increasingly paying for a smaller share of American roads (51 percent in 2007), Subsidyscope presents a database that allows users to explore and visualize highway funding by level of government and by geographic region. Users may also look at the extent to which funding came from user-related revenue or non-user sources. The data that drives this interface is also available for download. Read More »
October 14, 2010
The U.S. Maritime Administration’s Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program is a loan guarantee program that subsidizes domestic shipyards. The program has committed nearly $7.5 billion in loan guarantees since 1994. Subsidyscope has compiled 15 years of historical data and summary statistics showing which companies have obtained loan guarantees and how much they received, including outstanding loans and government losses on defaulted loans. The data identify the shipyards that benefited and the ships that were built under the program. Read more »
December 3, 2009
Finding detailed information on aviation, highway, transit, rail and maritime transportation spending by the federal government is easy using Subsidyscope.org.
Researchers, journalists and the general public are invited to search Subsidyscope's database of over 700,000 entries on federal transportation spending. All content on Subsidyscope is part of the public domain, meaning data can be freely used and cited in other analyses.
To learn more, see this tutorial by Subsidyscope Project Director Marcus Peacock, who explains how to search the transportation database using basic and advanced options. Watch the two-part screencast »
November 24, 2009
The way American roads are funded is changing. Revenues that predominantly come from users of roads ("user fees") including fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls, pay for a decreasing share of road costs. Taxes and fees not directly related to highway use ("non-user fees") are making up the difference. The analysis shows that in recent years, these revenues are funding a greater share of highway construction and maintenance projects, with a corresponding decrease in the percentage of user contributions, thereby increasing the financial burden on "non-users."
Using Federal Highway Administration statistics, Subsidyscope has calculated that in 2007, 51 percent of the nation's $193 billion set aside for highway construction and maintenance was generated through user fees—down from 10 years earlier when user fees made up 61 percent of total spending on roads. The rest came from other sources, including revenue generated by income, sales and property taxes, as well as bond issues. Read more »
November 6, 2009
The Boeing Co. was the biggest beneficiary of long-term loan guarantees by the Export-Import Bank of the United States in fiscal years 2007 and 2008, a Subsidyscope analysis shows. Of the $15.3 billion in guarantees issued by Ex-Im during the two-year period, nearly $10 billion, or 65 percent, went toward the purchase of commercial aircraft made by Chicago-based Boeing. Read more »
October 27, 2009
Forty-one of Amtrak’s 44 routes lost money in 2008 with losses ranging from nearly $5 to $462 per passenger depending upon the line, according to analysis by Pew’s Subsidyscope.
The line with the highest per passenger subsidy—the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles—carried almost 72,000 passengers last year. The California Zephyr, which runs from Chicago to San Francisco, had the second-highest per passenger subsidy of $193 and carried nearly 353,000 passengers in 2008. Pew's analysis indicates that the average loss per passenger on all 44 of Amtrak’s lines was $32, about four times what the loss would be using Amtrak's figures: only $8 per passenger. Read more and view interactive Amtrak route map »
October 7, 2009
Nearly $2 billion for more than 3,100 airport construction and rehabilitation projects has been obligated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the past five years even though the projects received low priority ratings, a Subsidyscope review of FAA data has found.
A searchable database released today on Subsidyscope includes National Priority Ratings (NPRs) for every project awarded a grant under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) from fiscal year 2005 through most of fiscal year 2009. Users may search by airport name, code or state, and sort findings by NPR (ranging from 0 to 100, with higher numbers being the highest-priority projects), congressional district or whether funding came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Read more »
September 28, 2009
Even before the stimulus legislation passed, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was on track to spend more than $71 billion in the fiscal year that ends September 30. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave the department another $48 billion to hand out, bringing the total to $119 billion. Transportation-related spending by agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, and tax breaks for benefits like parking and transit passes, nudge the number even higher.
Where did all this money go? How much of it went toward subsidy programs? Today, Subsidyscope releases information and search functions to help taxpayers and policy makers answer these and other questions. We've collected data from USAspending.gov and other sources and built a searchable database of transportation spending; users can query by grant recipient, state, government program and many other parameters. We've gathered additional data from federal agencies that shed light on specific programs, many of which receive little public scrutiny. We've documented tax deductions that benefit corporations and individuals and cost the government billions of dollars each year, and insurance programs that could expose taxpayers to massive payouts in the event of a disaster.
Among our findings:
It should be noted that not all federal spending on transportation constitutes a subsidy. But after an extensive vetting process, Subsidyscope has determined that most programs contain subsidies, the precise value of which is often impossible to determine. The data we release today, and will release on transportation and other sectors of the economy in the coming months, will enable users to search both for major trends and arcane nuggets of information (e.g., Puerto Rico received $948 million in transportation funding from fiscal year 2000 through 2008, mostly for public transit). We'll supplement the sector-by-sector release of USAspending.gov data with Web postings and stand-alone datasets – some obtained from federal agencies through the Freedom of Information Act, others from agency Web sites – that provide a closer look at individual programs.
- More than $45 billion of federal transportation spending in FY2008 was directed to programs that contain subsidies, an increase of around 20 percent since FY2000.
- Comparing direct payments such as grants by transportation mode, in FY2008, $30 billion was spent on highways, nearly $9 billion on mass transit, nearly $3 billion on aviation, $1 billion on rail, $387 million on maritime and $126 million was spent on other programs such as pipelines and recreational trails. Spending on tax breaks and risk transfers, such as loans, totaled less than $4 billion.
- From fiscal years 2000 through 2008, California received the most funding of any state — more than $38 billion. Vermont received the least ($1.5 billion). However, California received the least transportation aid per resident — $1,038. Alaska received the most money per capita ($8,183), almost eight times higher than California. For more, see here.
- The biggest transportation tax break goes to employees for parking costs. In fiscal year 1998 the government lost an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue through this benefit. By fiscal year 2008, the number almost doubled to nearly $3 billion. By fiscal year 2014, it's expected to reach almost $4 billion.
- The tax break for employer-provided transit passes grew almost seven-fold, from $70 million in fiscal year 1998 to $480 million last year, and is projected to reach $660 million in FY 2014. While the gap is narrowing, employers still subsidize driving over transit by a margin of six-to-one.
- Per capita, New York received the most money through the Federal Transit Formula Grants program — $278. Mississippi got the least — $14.
- Direct loans for highway projects constituted the largest transportation-related risk transfer in fiscal year 2008, putting the government on the hook for more than $1 billion.
To learn more about government subsidies — the "hidden budget" — see our Subsidyscope framing paper.