Transportation Economic Trends

Value of Transportation Infrastructure and Other Assets:

Investment in Transportation

The government (public) and private sector invest in transportation infrastructures (referred to as structures in national data on investment) like highways and streets, which have a fixed location, and transportation equipment like motor vehicles, aircraft, and ships. This page discusses public and private transportation investment. Data and discussion on the value of existing transportation infrastructure and equipment (capital stock) are also available.
2021 Year-in-Review
  • In 2021 public and private investment in transportation infrastructure and equipment totaled $383.9 billion, or 7.8 percent of the $4,939.6 billion in investment in all infrastructure,  equipment, and intellectual property rights.
  • Investment in transportation accounted for a smaller share of total investment in 2021 (7.8 percent) than in both 2019 and 2020 (10.3 and 8.1 percent of total investment, respectively).
  • Private investment in transportation equipment accounted for slightly more than half of the $383.9 billion invested in transportation in 2021 ($224.5 billion, or 58.5 percent). Public and private investment in new transportation infrastructure accounted for the remainder ($159.3 billion, or 41.5 percent).
  • Adjusted for inflation, investment in transportation increased by 4.9 percent in 2021, but despite the increase, total investment in transportation remained 16.5 percent below the 2019 level. The largest year-over-year increase in total transportation investment (adjusted for inflation) of 36.7 percent occurred in 2010.
  • While total investment in transportation increased, public investment in transportation decreased (adjusted for inflation) by 8.1 percent in 2021 — the largest year-over-year decline since 2003. The decline brought public investment in transportation to its fifth lowest over the past two decades and below the level maintained since 2015.
  • Adjusted for inflation, private investment in transportation increased by 13.8 percent in 2021 but was not the largest year-over-year increase. The largest increase of 85.5 percent occurred in 2010.

Transportation Investment | Sources of Transportation Investment
Investment in Transportation Assets
Transportation assets represent a small but important share of total public (government) and private investment in the United States. Investment in transportation is spending on transportation infrastructure and equipment (transportation assets) that take more than a year to consume. Because the assets last more than one year, this type of investment is known as a fixed investment.  Fixed investment consists of spending on new construction as well as on additions, alterations, and major structural replacements (but excluding maintenance and repair) to existing construction. It also includes spending on equipment and intellectual property products. Intellectual property products include research and development; software; and entertainment, literary, and artistic originals. The data are not detailed enough to identify transportation-related intellectual property rights, and thus all intellectual property rights fall under non-transportation fixed investment.
Public and Private Investment in Transportation  
Public (government) and private investment estimates include new structures and equipment and exclude maintenance and repair of existing structures or equipment. The estimates also exclude pipeline, which are part of mining infrastructure investment in national data. 

The majority of growth in public and private investment in transportation comes from private investment. Public investment covers only investment in transportation structures, e.g., highways and streets. Nearly all private investment is in transportation equipment.   

Transportation Investment | Sources of Transportation Investment
Sources of Transportation Investment
The national estimates of investment in transportation infrastructure come primarily from the Census Bureau’s Value of Construction Put in Place survey (see figure). The survey covers costs for constructing new structures and making improvements that extend the life or add value to existing structures in the private and public sectors.  
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Recommended citation
U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at

Bureau of Transportation Statistics
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.