A benchmarking transit research in the United States

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america


The national transit research program in the United States commands fewer resources than research on other surface transportation modes. In real dollars, expenditures on the national transit research program declined over the past six years. While the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 reverses this trend by increasing transit research funding over the next five fiscal years, transit research funding still lags aviation, highways, and railroads. The low priority assigned transit research at the national level is also prevalent at the state, transit industry, and university levels.

In an effort to focus resources on the transit industry’s most pressing needs, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has adopted a strategic transit research plan that sets forth five goals: provide leadership, increase ridership, improve operating and capital efficiency, improve safety and emergency preparedness, and protect the environment and promote energy independence. FTA charts strategies to achieve these goals but must do so with most of its research budget earmarked to specific projects. Technology issues dominate the national transit research program.


Permission to publish the abstract given by the Journal of Public Transportation.