What is transportation investment? Is household spending on transportation an investment?
Investment in transportation assets is spending on transportation infrastructure and equipment (transportation assets) that take more than a year to consume. Because the assets last more than 1 year,
this type of investment is known as a fixed investment in transportation
assets. Examples include spending on transportation infrastructure
(referred to as structures in national data on investment), like highways and
streets or in transportation equipment, like motor
vehicles, aircraft, and ships.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates both public and private investment in transportation assets. The BEA estimates include spending on new transportation structures and equipment and exclude maintenance and repair of existing transportation structures and equipment. They also exclude spending on pipelines, which BEA includes in mining
infrastructure investment. BEA's estimates of public and private investment in transportation structures come from the Census Bureau’s Value of
Construction Put in Place survey, and private investment in transportation
equipment come primarily from the U.S. Economic Census (conducted every 5 years). The
Federal Highway Administration also estimates investment in highways and
streets using different methodology than BEA and Census. See Sources for Investment in Highways
below for more information.
BEA also estimates household
purchases of new and used motor vehicles, motorcycles, and other sports and
recreational vehicles, such as bicycles, all of which are transportation assets
because they last more than 1 year. However, spending by households on vehicles
(automobiles, light trucks, motorcycles, and other recreational vehicles, such
as bicycles) and motor vehicle parts and accessories, such as tires, are considered
consumption, rather than investment in BEA's data. Household spending on motor vehicle fuel and public transportation are
not an investment because households use the goods upon purchase.