Government Transportation Revenues and Expenditures:

Transportation Economic Concepts

This page highlights transportation economic concepts related to government transportation revenues and expenditures.

Government Transportation Financial Statistics
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Government Transportation Financial Statistics (GTFS) provides information on transportation-related revenue and expenditures for all levels of government and for all modes of transportation. It aggregates data from a variety of sources, including the Office of Management and Budget’s Public Budget Database, the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Statistics Report, the National Transit Database, the FAA’s Airport Financial Report, tax data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of State and Local Government Finances.
Government Transportation Revenue
Transportation revenue includes taxes, charges, and fees collected by governments from transportation and non-transportation activities and allocated to transportation programs. It includes income from investing transportation funds and receipts from fines and penalties. For reporting, transportation revenue is classified into two categories:
1.     Own-source revenue
2.     Supporting revenue minus transportation revenue directed to other uses
Own-source revenue
Refers to taxes and charges levied on transportation-related activities and used specifically for transportation. Most of these revenue sources are user fees charged to users of the transportation system. Examples include the following:
  • Excise taxes, such as motor fuel taxes and aviation taxes
  • Property taxes, such as motor vehicle taxes
  • Charges, such as tolls and motor vehicle license fees
  • Fines and penalties, such as speeding and parking violation tickets
  • Investment income, such as interest income from the Highway Trust Fund balance
  • Concession income, such as that received by airport authorities
Supporting revenue
Includes funds collected from non-transportation-related activities but dedicated to support transportation programs. Examples include receipts received by state and local governments from sales or property taxes to finance transportation projects. It excludes funds raised from transportation-related activities but used to finance programs other than transportation. For example, receipts generated from motor fuel taxes directed to the general fund for other uses.
Government Transportation Expenditures
Transportation expenditures are outlays that the government pays to provide an efficient and safe transportation system, regardless of the sources of funding and regardless of which agencies make the payments. Expenditures include both capital investments and money spent to maintain and operate the transportation system. Government expenditures on transportation exclude those not directly supporting the transportation system, such payments for military shipments.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at

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.