Government Transportation Revenues

Government Transportation Revenues

Federal, state, and local government transportation revenues dedicated to finance transportation programs1 increased from $97.4 billion in fiscal year 1991 to $122.1 billion in fiscal year 2001 (in 2000 chained dollars2) for an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent (figure 10-1). However, the share of transportation revenues in total government revenues decreased slightly from 3.9 percent to 3.5 percent during the same period [1, 2].

The federal government share of these revenues averaged 32 percent per year between fiscal years 1991 and 1997 and then rose to an average share of 37 percent per year from fiscal years 1998 to 2001. Meanwhile, state governments' share of revenues dropped from an average of 48 percent in fiscal years 1991 through 1997 to 43 percent between fiscal years 1998 and 2001. The rise in the federal government share after fiscal year 1997 can be attributed to increased federal motor fuel taxes, the introduction of new transportation user charges, and the shift of transportation receipts from the general fund to transportation trust funds [3].

Among all transportation modes, highway usage generates the largest amount of government transportation revenues, accounting for $83.9 billion or 69 percent of the total in fiscal year 2001 (figure 10-2). Air transportation produces the second largest share (18 percent). Transit revenues, a combination of highway fees paid into the mass transit account of the Highway Trust Fund for transit purposes and proceeds from operations of the public mass transportation system, represent 11 percent of the total.

With annual growth rates of 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively, pipeline and air revenues grew faster than did other modes from fiscal year 1991 to fiscal year 2001 [3]. Rail is not represented, because fuel and property tax receipts from rail are channeled into the general fund and, hence, do not fall under the definition of transportation revenues used by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Amtrak generates revenues from passenger fares; but because Amtrak is not considered a government entity, its revenues are not included.


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, available at http:/, as of February 2005.

1 Money collected by government from transportation user charges and taxes to finance transportation programs are counted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics as transportation revenues. The following types of receipts are excluded: 1) revenues collected from users of the transportation system that are directed to the general fund and used for nontransportation purposes, 2) nontransportation general fund revenues that are used to finance transportation programs, and 3) proceeds from borrowing.

2 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.