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Government Transportation Revenues

Government Transportation Revenues

Federal, state, and local government transportation revenues earmarked to finance transportation programs1 increased from $82.2 billion in 1990 to $113.6 billion in 2000 (in 1996 chained dollars2) for an annual inflation-adjusted growth rate of 3 percent (figure 104). However, the share of transportation revenues in total government revenues decreased slightly from 4.4 percent to 4.2 percent in the same period [1].

The federal government share of revenues averaged 32 percent per year between 1990 and 1997 and then rose to an average share of 38 percent per year from 1998 to 2000. On the other hand, the state government share of revenues dropped from an average share of 48 percent in 1990 through 1997 to a share of 43 percent between 1998 and 2000. The rise in the federal government share after 1997 can be attributed to increased federal motor fuel taxes, the introduction of new transportation user charges, and the shift of transportation receipts from the general fund for deficit reduction to transportation trust funds [1].

Among all transportation modes, highway usage generates the largest amount of transportation revenues, accounting for $79.2 billion or 70 percent of the total in 2000 (figure 105). Air transportation produces the second largest share of transportation revenues (17 percent). Transit revenues, a combination of money paid into the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and proceeds from operations of the public mass transportation system, represent 10 percent of the total. With annual growth rates of 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively, pipeline and air revenues grew faster than did other modes from 1990 to 2000 [1]. Rail is not represented in revenues because fuel and property tax receipts from rail are channeled into the general fund for deficit reduction and hence do not fall under the definition of transportation revenues used by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Amtrak generates revenues from passenger fares, but since Amtrak is not considered a government entity, its revenues are not included.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Government Transportation Financial Statistics 2001, available at http://www.bts.gov, as of February 2003.

1 Money collected by government from transportation user charges and taxes, which are earmarked to finance transportation programs, are counted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics as transportation-related revenues. The following types of receipts are excluded: 1) revenues collected from users of the transportation system that are directed to the general fund and used for nontransportation purposes, 2) nontransportation general fund revenues that are used to finance transportation programs, and 3) proceeds from borrowing.

2 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 1996 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (which are available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.

Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017