The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released its 2011 Transportation Performance Index (TPI). This high-value report measures how well transportation, energy, broadband, and water systems are meeting the demands of the nation, including businesses large and small, and then correlating the results to measures the health of the American economy.
Since a strong transportation system is a key factor in economic development, the transportation performance indexes were created for every state and the District of Columbia in addition to a national index. State indexes are calculated for 1995, 2000 and 2007; state-by-state results are available for 2007 only.
"Allowing the nation's overall transportation performance to lag behind the average index of the top five states leaves about $1 trillion of potential GDP on the table," said the report's authors.
"The Chamber is the first organization to ever measure the correlation between the quality of transportation systems and economic growth," noted Janet Kavinoky, vice president of Americans for Transportation Mobility for the U.S. Chamber. "The results in this report underscore the challenges we still face today." By all accounts, she said, this new report illuminates the reality that the nation's transportation networks "continue to languish."
The TPI quantifies how well transportation systems are meeting the demands of the nation and outlines a series of reforms to modernize our transportation policy. In 2009 (the latest year data was available), the TPI spiked to 56.6 above the 2008 level of 52.82, which is the largest improvement in a single year since 1990 (the index's first year). However, this upward result is primarily due to the fact fewer people and goods were using the highways, rails, waterways, and airways in 2009 than in previous years. Thus, TPI's slight improvement "is not sustainable and does not represent a long-term trend," Kavinoky said. "It is due to the economic downturn, rather than strategic policy and regulatory reforms or new investment."
Among other initiatives, the Washington, D.C.-based Chamber is calling for Congressional action on major transportation authorization bills. It is requesting lawmakers to deliver on policy and program reforms as well as direct funding, federal credit resources, and incentives for creating a pipeline of projects appropriate for public private partnerships and direct private sector investment.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing over 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.