January 4, 2017
The importance of transportation infrastructure for American society cannot be overstated. Our highway system, ports, airports and railroads are the arteries of the economy, moving goods, services and workers inside cities and between states.
In urban areas, public transit plays an equally important role not just for workers but for connecting all Americans to opportunities in their communities. In New York City, some 55 percent of all commuters take public transit every day. As our cities become more congested, a growing transit system can provide an alternative to driving. At the same time, our population of baby boomers will most likely rely on public transit as they age. Improvements in public transit can spur economic development and increase the capacity to move people.
Yet despite its significance, we as a nation have neglected our transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 report card graded the national transportation infrastructure from a high of C+ for bridges and rail to an embarrassing D for aviation, roads, and public transit. It estimates that highway congestion costs the U.S. economy $101 billion annually and that $170 billion per year of annual investment is needed to make significant improvements. Likewise, deficiencies in our transit systems cost another $90 billion per year.