Government Transportation Revenues and Expenditures:

Government Transportation Expenditures


Government spending on transportation funds activities like the building of highways and bridges. Most government spending on transportation takes place at the state and local levels, although federal funds often supplement state and local capital expenditures. Public-private partnerships are another method to finance, build, and operate transportation projects. 
2017 Year-in-Review (latest available)
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Government Transportation Financial Statistics:
  • In 2017, the Federal Government spent $34.1 billion directly on transportation, excluding federal transfers to states. 
  • State and local governments spent $318.2 billion in 2017, including expenditures paid for with federal transfers, such as the Federal-Aid Highway Program and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. 
As of August 2018, 24 states enacted broad statute(s), and 13 states and 2 U.S. territories enacted limited statute(s) to authorize the use of PPPs to deliver transportation projects.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Government Transportation Financial Statistics (GTFS) aggregates data from a variety of sources to provide information on transportation-related expenditures for all levels of government and for all modes of transportation. Data are also available for government transportation revenue.

Total Government Transportation Expenditures
Federal, state, and local governments play a major role in providing transportation services and infrastructure in the United States.
Most government spending on transportation takes place at the state and local levels (roughly 90%), although federal funds often supplement state and local capital expenditures.

Government Transportation Expenditures by Level of Government and Mode
Federal Direct Transportation Expenditures by Mode
Most federal transportation spending, excluding federal transfers to states (direct federal spending), is for aviation. 
State and Local Government Transportation Expenditures by Mode
The majority of state and local spending on transportation (including expenditures paid for with federal grants, is on highways.

Transportation Expenditures by State
The Census Bureau's Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances shows a regional pattern in government transportation spending. Government transportation expenditures account for a large portion of total spending spending in resource-rich states in the northern Great Plains. Despite relatively low population densities, these states have considerable demand for transportation to support industries that rely on heavy, high bulk transportation-intensive products, such as oil, coal, and minerals.

Public-Private Partnerships
Public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) are another method to finance, build, and operate transportation projects, such as highway toll lanes or airport terminals. A PPP is a contractual agreement formed between public and private sector partners usually involving a government agency contracting with a private company to renovate, construct, operate, maintain, or manage a facility or system. The agency usually retains ownership in the facility or system.

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U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at www.bts.gov/product/transportation-economic-trends.


Bureau of Transportation Statistics
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.