Emergency Stabilization & Economic Recovery Recommendations

20 recommendations for any economic recovery package

We can build a better stimulus package. Here’s how.

Smart Growth America’s recommendations for the federal COVID-19 response

After passing the largest stimulus in United States history last week—$2 trillion, with $25 billion in aid for transit agencies and $1 billion for passenger rail—members of Congress know that more is needed to protect the country from the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19, and plan to work on another stimulus later this month.

With the economy crumbling and millions of Americans’ lives at risk, the U.S. can’t afford to waste this opportunity for relief. We can’t squander our money on programs that fail to create the most new jobs or build lasting economic prosperity. It’s critical that this funding go to investments that give all Americans the opportunity to live in places that are healthy, prosperous, and resilient.

As part of Smart Growth America, we contributed to a new short SGA report outlining 20 recommendations for any economic recovery package that will boost our economy and give Americans equitable, accessible, safe and low carbon transportation options into the future. Here’s a summary of the transportation-related recommendations—read the full list here.

Invest in projects that create the most jobs: that means maintenance, not expansion

Road or bridge repair and maintenance projects actually create more jobs than building new capacity. In fact, roadway maintenance creates 16 percent more jobs per dollar compared to roadway expansion.

Give transit and passenger rail operating support, not just capital funds

The limited federal funds that public transportation receives annually are only for maintenance and construction. With ridership plummeting and costs for cleaning vehicles and protecting personnel skyrocketing—as well as the fallout from a rapidly contracting economy—transit and passenger rail need operating funds to keep service running. The $25 billion for transit and $1 billion for passenger rail Congress provided in last week’s stimulus is a great start, but both public transportation and passenger rail will likely need more.

Expand transit and passenger rail

The focus of any stimulus package should be creating the most jobs per dollar, and capital funding for transit and rail creates far more jobs than road projects. Every $1 billion invested in public transit creates more than 50,000 jobs and economic returns of $3.7 billion over 20 years. Public dollars devoted to making capital improvements to public transportation systems also support thousands of manufacturing jobs, in communities small and large, in nearly every state across the country. It’s hard to beat that.

Register for the webinar: Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, April 15th from 1pm-2pm EDT where we’ll walk through our recommendations for supporting the nation through a recovery plan. Register now >


Download the report

Click above or here to download your copy of the report (pdf).