A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that between 2007 and 2011, states spent $5 billion, or 10%, of their allotted flexible federal surface transportation funds on transit programs. According to the agency, this total represents just 3% of all federal funding for surface transportation.
The GAO reports that of the $184 billion in federal money available to states, 29 percent of that can be flexed to any surface mode of transportation a state chooses. The rate at which states used those flex dollars varied: California, New Jersey, New York and Virginia all spent more than a quarter of their flexible funding on transit; on the other hand, 16 states used less than 2% of federal flex dollars on transit and seven used none.
How the funding is spent also varies from state to state. The GAO report showed that roughly one third of it is used for vehicle purchases. One-quarter of the money goes toward other capital expenses, and new transit infrastructure gets 22 percent of the funding.