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Detailed Justification for Transportation Economics

Detailed Justification for Transportation Economics

FY 2008 Request: $1,811,000
FTE: 8.6 [includes 2.6 overhead]


The Transportation Economics Program develops basic economic and financial data to support transportation decision making, including development of economic indicators that explain the relationship between transportation and the economy. Program products provide transportation policy officials with information and data on how their decisions impact the larger economy so they can optimize transportation investments, improve transportation system productivity, and increase the value of transportation to users. The program focuses on topics identified by Congress in BTS authorizing legislation, such as transportation sector productivity, transportation costs, and national accounting for transportation expenditures.

Without the Transportation Economics program:

  • The Transportation Satellite Accounts, which measure the effect of transportation upon Gross Domestic Product (GDP), would not be produced. DOT and other governmental economists would have no other data to accurately calculate the total effects of the transportation sector upon the economy. Furthermore, national economic multipliers would not include the in-house transportation sector and therefore would understate the calculations used for transportation investment purposes.
  • The Air Travel Price Index (ATPI), an index of representative air fares that measures the changes that people pay for commercial air travel, would not be published. Without the ATPI, the aviation industry would not have accurate information on the increase in air travel prices by airport, which are used for analysis of the aviation industry, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics would not be able to use the ATPI in a supporting capacity for the development of the Consumer Price Index, nor the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a price deflator in GDP calculations.
  • RITA/BTS would not be able to fulfill its legislative mandate under SAFETEA-LU to produce measures of transportation productivity. The productivity data are important to DOT for evaluating the economic performance of transportation modes and determining priorities for resource allocation, and are used by economists to understand the factors that affect changes in productivity over time to evaluate alternative for increasing production efficiency.
  • RITA/BTS would not be able to develop and publish key financial information such as the Government Transportation Financial Statistics (GTFS) and the State Transit Expenditure Survey, which provide data on Federal, state and local transportation revenues and expenditures. Without the GTFS data Congress and DOT policy makers will no longer be able to track transportation expenditures and revenue by mode. Elimination of the transit expenditure survey, developed and used in cooperation with the Association of American State Highway Transportation Organizations (AASHTO), would result in Congress, DOT and State and local governments not being able to track their funding sources as accurately.

FY 2007 Base

The Transportation Economics Program in FY 2007 includes development of the Transportation Satellite Accounts (extending the transportation component of GDP beyond for-hire services to include transportation services provided in-house by industries), quarterly production of the Air Travel Price Index, measures of productivity, studies of the economic consequences of transportation investments, and publication of Government Transportation Financial Statistics.

Anticipated FY 2007 Accomplishments

  • Publish Transportation Satellite Account (TSA) estimates for private truck, rail, aviation, and waterborne modes on the BTS Transportation Economics web page.
  • Produce the Air Travel Price Index (ATPI) on a quarterly basis. Continue development of new ATPI automated system components, including a seasonal adjustment component.
  • Develop multi-factor productivity (MFP) measures and analysis for trucking and pipeline modes. This will include an enhancement of previous long-distance trucking estimates and an assessment of the causes for productivity gains.
  • Publish the 2006 edition of the Government Transportation Financial Statistics (GTFS).
  • Update and publish the State Transit Expenditure Survey.

FY 2008 Budget Request

In FY 2008, the Transportation Economics Program will produce the core set of economic data and indicators as in 2007, which include the Transportation Satellite Accounts, Air Travel Price Index, Government Transportation Financial Statistics, multi-factor productivity measures, and the State Transit Expenditure Survey.