Government Transportation Expenditures

Government Transportation Expenditures

Spending on building, maintaining, operating, and administering the nation's transportation system by all levels of government totaled $176.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 (in chained 2000 dollars1). The federal government spent 30 percent of the funds; state and local governments, the other 70 percent (figure 10-3).

Between fiscal years 1991 and 2001, federal, state, and local government transportation expenditures grew faster than their total government expenditures. This growth increased transportation's share of total government expenditures from 4.9 percent to 5.3 percent. In addition, state and local government spending on transportation grew slightly faster. State and local governments also spent more on transportation, as a percentage of their total expenditures, than the federal government. In fiscal year 2001, the respective shares were 8 percent and 3.0 percent [1, 2, 3].

Among all modes of transportation, highways receive the largest amount of government transportation funds. In fiscal year 2001, highway funding was $107.7 billion, accounting for 61 percent of the total (figure 10-4). Transit and air modes accounted for 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while rail and pipeline modes accounted for less than 1 percent each. Between fiscal years 1991 and 2001, government expenditures on all modes except pipeline and rail transportation increased at about the same rate, leaving the overall modal distribution of government transportation expenditures almost unchanged. During this period, federal government pipeline expenditures2 rose 133 percent, from $12 million in 1991 to $28 million in 2001, and rail expenditures decreased 27 percent, from $987 million to $723 million [3].


1. Executive Office of the President of the United States, Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005, available at, as of January 2005.

2. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, State and Local Government Finances, available at, as of January 2005.

3. U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), calculations using data from USDOT, BTS, Government Transportation Financial Statistics 2003, table 4-B, available at, as of February 2005.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. To eliminate the effects of inflation over time, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics converted current dollars (which are available in appendix B) to chained 2000 dollars.

2 State and local expenditures data for pipeline are not available after 1995.