Benefits-cost ratio of U.S. transit analyzed in paper

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) recently released a new white paper titled "The Benefits of Transit in the United States: A Review and Analysis of Benefit-Cost Studies," written by Christopher E. Ferrell.

Transit planners, advocates and policymakers are now able to use this collective resource for their own work and studies via a free download. The estimates identify the major categories by monetized benefits derived from the U.S. transit services.

The paper shows that there are strong, measurable benefits of transit, including the fact that transit tends to pay for itself through relieving congestion for urban areas ranging from mid- to large-size. These benefits are found in a wide range of operating environments and not just huge cities.

“A review and analysis of available benefit-cost ratio estimates for transit systems in the U.S. found wide variation among sources,” Ferrell said. “Some of these differences are attributable to the population sizes and densities of the service areas — the context — with rural and small urban areas generally yielding lower benefit-cost values than urbanized areas. However, substantial differences remained even after the context was accounted for, suggesting that differences in the methods of analysis used in these studies are the cause and that researchers could benefit from the comparisons and analysis provided herein.”

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Mineta Transportation Institute

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