Transportation Finance

red truck Transportation finance has emerged as the foremost challenge for transportation policy-makers. Within a few years, the Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) - a major source of funding for the maintenance and improvement of the Interstate Highway System and other major highways - will no longer generate sufficient funds to support the nation’s highway programs. Meanwhile, our population is growing, our economy is expanding, and so is our need to transport people and goods. With the revenue to fund our highway and transit systems failing to keep pace with that demand, we are falling further behind with consequent increases in congestion and losses in productivity and the quality of life.

Our Services

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  • Transportation Finance and Needs Analysis. Cambridge Systematics provides nationally- and internationally-recognized consulting services in the areas of infrastructure finance, impact fee programming, tolling and revenue forecasting, capital budgeting and programming, benefit/cost and financial analysis for public facilities, financial modeling, and economic analysis for public and private sector program management. We have been at the forefront of transportation finance and needs analysis studies for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administrations (FTA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Transportation Research Board (TRB), state DOTs, The Hudson Institute, and National Chamber Foundation. A central component of this work is the consideration of revenue measures and innovative finance opportunities that can leverage available Federal, state, local, and private funds and increase the financial feasibility of proposed investments.

    Most recently, Cambridge Systematics described future financing needs and options to meet the nation’s highway and transit investment needs through 2017 for the TRB-sponsored National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 20-24(49). For the National Chamber Foundation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we examined the Federal role in funding highway and transit capital improvements and stimulating greater state and local investment. We also provided an assessment of alternative sources of short- and long-term transportation revenue as part of the Hudson Institute’s 2010 and Beyond: A Vision of America's Transportation Future.

    For AASHTO, Cambridge Systematics led the team that prepared the needs analysis for the most recent AASHTO Highway and Transit Bottom Line Report, including both highway and transit investment requirements. We also are completing a series of Freight Transportation Bottom Line Reports for AASHTO. These reports contain policy and legislative recommendations to guide Congress in determining national highway and transit investment requirements. In addition, Cambridge Systematics is supporting the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission in assessing highway and transit needs, freight system requirements, revenue and innovative finance options, and public-private partnership (PPP) opportunities.

  • Innovative Finance.  Cambridge Systematics constantly monitors new financing techniques and approaches for engaging the private sector to help solve policy and investment problems. We have been providing support for the FHWA’s Innovative Finance initiative for many years. We reviewed Federally sponsored innovative finance programs and tools advanced by the U.S. DOT since 1996 and prepared an innovative finance brochure and primer, which has played an important role in building awareness and educating state and local officials in new, nontraditional financing mechanisms and the benefits of implementing such techniques. Cambridge Systematics also prepares the FHWA’s Innovative Finance Quarterly newsletter that disseminates information on innovative finance programs, best practices, research, and training opportunities to state and local transportation officials. In addition, Cambridge Systematics staff provide technical support to the FHWA’s Office of Federal Aid Financial Management and the Department’s TIFIA Joint Program Office. We are completing work on a synthesis report that examines the information provided to decision-makers involved in PPP deals and how that information was used in the decision-making process. This research investigates opinions related to the reliability of that information and how the public interest was protected. The synthesis lays out the main criteria for selecting PPP as the project delivery method from the public perspective, which will help future decision-makers pay attention to the most critical aspects of these proposals.
  • Statewide Transportation Needs Financing.  Cambridge Systematics supported the Washington State Legislature in assessing revenue options and financing statewide transportation needs. Alternative and emerging transportation funding efforts throughout the country and internationally were evaluated along with trends and long-term implications of applying debt financing to complete transportation projects. The study resulted in the development of recommendations for maintaining the medium- and long-term viability of the State’s funding portfolio. For the Washington State Transportation Commission, Cambridge Systematics carried out a Comprehensive Tolling Study to create a process that facilitates Washington’s ability to make policy-level decisions on if, where, when, and how to toll. We brought a national perspective on infrastructure development issues to Washington, evaluated potential tolling applications such as traditional tolling and congestion pricing, and conducted attitude surveys about tolling. Cambridge Systematics also was part of a team that recently explored highway and transit financing options and PPP opportunities for the Pennsylvania DOT and are supporting the Massachusetts Finance Commission in investigating new revenue and cost-savings opportunities for the Commonwealth’s transportation agencies.

Why Cambridge Systematics

Cambridge Systematics has been at the forefront of transportation finance for decades. Our research has resulted in nationally-publicized findings on transportation funding gaps and our revenue proposals will inform future transportation legislation. We apply this extensive national perspective to the state and local levels to guide transportation organizations in quantifying and understanding their own investment needs and funding capacity issues. Our work has helped articulate the urgent funding problems facing both the nation and localities, providing a catalyst for Federal response as well as action by state legislatures. Because we understand the risk and return criteria of private investors and the institutional constraints faced by public agencies, Cambridge Systematics is able to forge consensus and cooperation among diverse private firms and public agencies.

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