- Briefing Room
The following are academic and technical resources on transportation funding and financing issues from a federal perspective. The resources, from public and non-government sources, highlights revenue alternatives for highway and public transportation modes.
This report begins with a discussion of the problems associated with the trust fund financing system (which supports both federal highway and public transportation programs) and then explores possible options for financing surface transportation infrastructure. It finds that raising motor fuel taxes could provide the highway trust fund with sufficient revenue to fully fund the program in the near term, but it may not be a viable long-term solution. Replacing current motor fuel taxes with a fuel sales tax or a fee based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) raise a variety of financial and administrative concerns. The political difficulty of adequately financing the highway trust fund could lead Congress to consider the desirability of changes to maintain the trust fund system or eliminating it altogether. Such changes might involve a reallocation of responsibilities and obligations among federal, state, and local governments. Interest in improving transportation infrastructure with private and non-grant funding sources, such as tolls, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and federal loan programs is increasing, but many projects may not be well suited to alternative financing.
This report outlines the major changes in programmatic structure to highway and transit funding found in the most recent surface transportation authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The Congressional Research Service is non-partisan research organization that works exclusively for U.S. Congress.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) produced a report in March 2011 examining alternatives for federal highway funding, focusing primarily on methods that employed some iteration of a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) framework. The report examines the various costs of highway use across different transportation uses (for example, freight and commuter travel) and how pricing a system based on VMT would meet those costs. The CBO produces nonpartisan, independent analysis of budgetary and economic issues to aid the Congressional budget process.
This report synthesizes the challenges of funding public transportation. The summary is a result of a survey conducted in May 2009 of all transit agencies, focusing on which systems are having declining revenue and negatively affected system operations. The survey touches on the solutions agencies are considering and have employed to combat scarce resources. The American Public Transit Association (APTA) comprises members from public organizations engaged in transit that provide policy leadership to ensure that public transportation is available to communities across the U.S.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) produced a report on value capture in transit to understand trends at the state and local level, as well as the effect of federal policies and programs on the use of value capture. GAO analyzed data from 66 of 71 transit agencies across the country and spoke with FTA officials, transit experts, and developers. GAO is the investigative and evaluative arm of Congress that aids them in meeting their mission to improve the performance and accountability of the federal government.
Congress directed the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to conduct a comprehensive study of the needs of America's surface transportation system and sources of revenues to fund them over at least the next 30 years. To assist the Commission in this effort, AASHTO developed this 2007 report to provide a needs assessment summary, address the revenue crisis Congress would have to address in 2009, short-term revenue options for and outside of the Highway Trust Fund, long-term federal revenue options, and state and local government revenue options.
This study focuses on the use of transit-oriented development (TOD) nationwide and the impact of different land use strategies on the transportation system. The Transit Cooperative Research Program undertakes research and other technical responsibilities to help the transit industry develop innovative solutions to the industry's problems TCRP was created through the Transportation Research Board and currently sits under FTA sponsorship.
FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information website offers a variety of publications and resources related to the nation's highway network. More information, discussion groups, publications and presentations on motor fuel and the Highway Trust Fund can also be accessed through this website.
The FTA website offers a wide array of training opportunities and transit-related material ranging from news and events, to resources on planning, grants, financing, legislation, regulations, civil rights, accessibility, safety and security. Transit-oriented development and joint development definitions, resources, and programs are also available under the Planning and Environment section of the FTA website.