Bus Rapid Transit Infrastructure Spending and Local Economic Development: An Analysis of the Impact of Competitive TIGER Grants in Grant Winning Cities on the Labor Force
Mobility strategies provide a powerful framework for policymakers to achieve employment opportunities and positive economic outcomes for low income and low skilled workers. Following the “Great Recession,” the Obama Administration established the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to competitively award grants to municipalities to carry out transportation projects that could produce positive results in local economies. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2009 through 2015, I compare those cities that were awarded a TIGER grant for a bus rapid transit (BRT) project before and after the project’s implementation with cities that applied for a TIGER grant for a similar project, but were denied funding. I find that there is a statistically significant impact on the likelihood that an individual will enter the workforce in a city that has implemented a BRT project via a TIGER grant in comparison to an individual in the grant losing city. While there are constraints in measurement around the individuals who are being assessed across time and there is a lack of useable transit data to append, my results indicate that BRT projects are good investments for cities looking to bolster their economic health.