White House: Transit Inflation Outstripping Private Transportation

The White House’s annual economic report, in addition to its endorsement of inter-city rail and transit spending, also sheds more light on transit inflation, which is often reported anecdotally in the many cities struggling with fare hikes but rarely put in statistical terms by economists.

NYC-transit-fare-hikes-poised-for-passage_1.jpg(Photo: UPI)

In the appendices of its report, the president’s Council on Economic Advisers estimated the overall U.S. consumer price index (CPI) at 214.537 in 2009, with the period of 1982-1984 signifying the 100 level. In general, then, prices for major goods have more than doubled over the past two-and-a-half decades.

The changes in price for what Americans pay for food (218.249 in 2009) and housing, including utilities (217.057), have kept pace with the overall CPI, according to the White House. But in the specific category of transportation, the difference was notable — private transportation, a category that includes new or used vehicles and motor fuel, had a CPI of 174.762 in 2009, while transit’s CPI hit 236.348 last year.

To be sure, transit costs were not the most out-off-control expense singled out by the White House. Inflation for medical care reached 375.613 in 2009, and the cost of shelter, not including utilities, was 249.354 last year.

Still, the palpable disparity between the costs of private and public modes of transportation is a trend that should be catching the attention of policymakers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Defining the ‘Public’ in Public-Private Partnerships

|
In a must-read piece for the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), Matt Lewis digs deeper into the network of cities and towns that employ D.C. transportation. He begins with a thought-provoking anecdote: A ribbon-cutting in Dubuque, IA, for IBM’s new tech center. (Photo: Gazette) Last September, city fathers in Dubuque, Iowa, lured three members of […]

White House Economic Report Touts TIGER, High-Speed Rail, Transit

|
The White House Council of Economic Advisers’ first annual report under President Obama made headlines today for its gloomy job-creation outlook, but tucked inside its 462 pages is a tangible reflection of a changed outlook on transportation policy under the new administration. Top White House economic adviser Christina Romer, at right, holds up yesterday’s report. […]

Six Lies the GOP Is Telling About the House Transportation Bill

|
The transportation-plus-drilling bill that John Boehner and company are trying to ram through the House is an attack on transit riders, pedestrians, cyclists, city dwellers, and every American who can’t afford to drive everywhere. Under this bill, all the dedicated federal funding streams for transit, biking, and walking would disappear, leading to widespread service cuts […]

Which Cities Are Making the Quickest Shift Away From Cars?

|
How we get to work in America — it’s a function of a city’s demographics, its physical structure, and the quality and availability of different transportation options. Each year the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey gives us a rough idea of how different transportation modes are faring in cities across the country. Comparing trends, city […]