Detailed Justification for the Transportation Economics Program

Detailed Justification for the Transportation Economics Program

What Do I Need To Know Before Reading This Justification?

The U.S. transportation system forms the backbone of the nation's economy. To better understand this relationship and maximize economic competitiveness, the Transportation Economics Program develops and analyzes data that helps to explain the economic impact of the USDOT's transportation policy and investment decisions.

The Transportation Economics program supports the USDOT economic competitiveness strategic goal and provides key information for understanding the consequences of user fees and taxes.

Congress has previously mandated that BTS compile and publish statistics supporting economic and transportation analysis for transportation decision-making by all levels of government, the transportation community, businesses and consumers.

What Is The Request And What Will We Get For The Funds?

FY 2012 Transportation Economics
Budget Request


Program Activity FY 2010 Actual FY 2012 Request ChangeFY 2010-2012
Transportation Economics Program 1,811 1,938 127
TOTAL 1, 2 $1,811 $1,938 $127

1 FY 2012 increase reflects reallocation of operating expenses.

2 The total funding includes salaries and administrative expenses and contract program.

Key Actions:

  • This program compiles Government Financial Transportation Statistics (GTFS) and the Transportation Satellite Account (TSA), and generates economic impact estimates using multi-modal transportation models.
  • The Transportation Satellite Account expands upon the basic Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) accounts which describe the for-hire transportation industry by providing coverage of in-house transportation as well. Detailed inputs of services and commodities by mode are provided by The Transportation Satellite Account for in-house transportation, supplementing the data that BEA accounts provide on transportation.
  • Develops basic economic and financial data to support transportation decision-making, including investment analysis, through development of economic indicators that measure the contribution of transportation to the economy, research on transportation economic trends and forecasts, transportation costs and expenditures.

Key Outputs:

GTFS; updated Transportation Satellite Account; and economic analysis and modeling; data and findings used to assess transportation impacts on the U.S. economy.

Key Outcomes:

Provide policy-makers with greater insight into the impact of transportation on the economy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

What Is This Program?

Strategic goals: Economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

Purpose: Transportation and related investments are critical to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy and represent significant investments by governments and households. This request funds the continuation of the Transportation Economics Program and enhancements to the BTS Economic and Competitiveness Data and Analysis Program for producing the annual GTFS report to address government transportation finance and expenditures; update the TSA, which measures the role of transportation in the economy; and develop and use economic models for policy and economic impact analysis.

Beneficiaries: OST, FHWA, FAA, Congress, state and local governments.

Partners: BTS works with FHWA to support their modeling and forecasting needs; the Bureau of Economic Analysis and state governments provide critical data.

Description: Program products provide transportation officials with information on the economic impact of transportation and how to optimize transportation investments, improve system productivity, and increase the value of transportation to users. Specifically:

  • The GTFS report provides the only single source of statistics on transportation-related revenues and expenditures of the federal, state and local governments for all modes of transportation. The report also contains federal budget authority and obligations, and grants to state and local governments. Statistics on federal expenditures, budget authority and obligations are provided at the agency and program level.
  • The TSA expands upon the basic Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) input-output (I-O) accounts, which describe all industries and the commodity inputs used in production, by providing separate coverage of for-hire and in-house transportation and detailed inputs of services and commodities used in the transportation sector by mode. These comprehensive estimates for the transportation sector are not available from BEA.
  • The BTS Trending and Forecast Team performs trending, prediction, seasonal adjustment, and time series and econometric forecasting of transportation data. The team works with federal transportation forecasters outside of BTS, as well as with the modal agencies across USDOT, on indexes, VMT forecasting, and modeling. This assists policy makers in identifying trends and turning points in the economy.

Prior Year Accomplishments:

The Transportation Economics Program will:

  • Update the most recently available 2002 TSA estimates for private truck, rail, aviation, and waterborne modes for use by the USDOT Chief Economist, FHWA Office of Policy Studies, FAA, AASHTO and other economists to measure impacts of transportation expenditures on GDP. 
  • Produce the quarterly Air Travel Price Index (ATPI); continue development of new ATPI automated system components, and user testing; develop consumer choice demand component to ATPI in order to measure consumer shifting between long and short distances, and high and low cost carriers.
  • Continue development of a Time Series and Forecasting Center and publish time series trends, including publication of Transportation Trends in Focus (TTiF) reports on requested topics. The TTiF series reports on key transportation data.
  • Provide aviation and other modal data, modeling and forecasting expertise to the Federal Highway Administration in constructing multi-modal network and forecasting model.
  • Develop estimates of short-term time series and mid-term TEAMS model travel forecasts; provide support to FHWA on forecasting of VMT and trends in historical nationwide congestion measures; estimate de-seasonalized monthly travel data for FHWA.
  • Make estimates of the economic impacts on the Highway Trust Fund of changes in gasoline prices and total number of vehicle miles traveled. Add travel and program modeling support to modal agencies through development of the TEAMS model for various modes of transport.
  • Publish the 2010 edition of the Government Transportation Financial Statistics (GTFS).

Why is this Particular Program Necessary?

Information on economic performance and an accounting of capital stocks is explicitly required for the Intermodal Transportation Data and Transportation Statistics Annual Report have been requested by Congress in the past.

The program provides unique products to USDOT and other policy makers to estimate how changes in the transportation sector impact the economy. It provides a comprehensive accounting of transportation revenues and expenditures across all levels of government and throughout the private sector portion of the economy. Coverage is essential to understand the consequences of changes to user fees and taxes, as well as business and household logistics costs. This is needed for understanding the potential impacts of changes in energy markets and policies on the transportation sector and other parts of the economy that depend on transportation.

The TSAs will provide data to link project and programs from transportation to the economy for cost-benefit purposes, financial, investment and program evaluation. The TEAMS product will estimate various scenarios for policy development and evaluation, investment analysis, financial planning, program evaluation and budget impacts.

Without this funding, USDOT would not be able to calculate the impact of transportation expenditures on the economycritical for measuring economic competitiveness.

How do You Know the Program Works?

Effective: Frequency of use of products and information, and inquiries from the White House, Congress, and OST. The program generates unique products that are widely used by federal, state and local government agencies as well as university researchers.

Research: The TSA is based on methodologies developed in partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Efficient: This program is useful to planners and policy makers for assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the transportation system and for evaluating transportation investments.

Why Do We Want/Need to Fund the Program at the Requested Level?

The requested level of funding is needed to continue the base program.

History/Outyear Needs: FY 2010 $1.811M; FY 2012 $1.938M.