Where Transit Investment Costs the Most Per Capita

For all the attention paid the transit investments of cities like New York City and Los Angeles, it's actually cities like Seattle and Denver spending the most per capita on capital investments in transit.

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March 22, 2017, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Seattle Bus Rain

john farrell macdonald / Flickr

David Gurtman reports data from the Federal Transit Administration about how much each urban area (as defined by the Census Bureau) spends per capita on capital investment in transit systems.

The data show that even before Sound Transit 3 spending went into effect, "the Seattle region was already spending more, per capita, on new buses, trains and other transit projects than any other major city in the country."

"For each person in the Seattle urban area, local transit agencies spent nearly $400 on capital expenses in 2015, the highest such figure in the country," adds Gurtman. As for why Seattle's transit investment costs so much, Gurtman cites Scott Rutherford, a transportation engineering professor at the University of Washington and the director of the university’s Sustainable Transportation Program:

One reason, as Rutherford said, is that we’re just now building systems that other cities built decades ago. Another reason: Puget Sound. Spending by Washington State Ferries is included in Seattle’s total. That’s something that cities less interlaced with water don’t have to deal with.

As for the rest of the list, Denver-Aurora comes in second, followed by San Francisco-Oakland, San Jose, and Washington, D.C.

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