The Dernogalizer

June 13, 2009

Transforming Transit

In 2006 transportation made up 28% of  greenhouse gas emissions,  second only to electricity generation.  Since 1990 the growth in the greenhouse gas emissions for transportation represent 48% of all US emissions growth.  Since forever, spending on roads versus mass transit has been very very much in favor of the roads.  President Obama is seen as the strongest advocate in a long time if not ever for a more  balanced transportation approach that places an emphasis on rail and bus transit.  The stimulus bill received a record and unprecedented amount of funding for rail and transit, and it was only 8.4 billion.  Spending on roads and highways well eclipses that, so even with a spending binge done by a progressive Congress and a strong rail advocate in Obama, mass transit did ‘ok’ at best.  The good news is that the public has always been for more mass transit spending, and a recent poll shows that support has gone up, possibly due to concerns over gas prices rising again.

There’s going to be a big opportunity in the Congress later this year as they consider a massive 6 year transportation re-authorization bill that will decide what priorities America invests in.  It’s a good chance to get transportation right.  A recent US Daily News interview of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is a very good indicator that the Obama administration will be looking to give mass transit a whole lot more love.  Really, just about all LaHood talks about in the interview for every question is the need for more rail and more mass transit!  A long way to go, and the Congress usually has a way of screwing things up, but for transit advocates out there, this interview is worth reading . Notable excerpts below.

“Four months into his new position as secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood has a great deal on his plate. As well as overseeing 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget, he’s in charge of $48 billion in stimulus funds directed to his department by the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is gearing up for the reauthorization of the massive, six-year “highway bill” that funds transportation projects. The former congressman from Illinois sat down with U.S. News to talk about the administration’s priorities, high-speed rail, and where all that money will come from.”

“We’ve spent three decades building an interstate system. We’ve put almost all of our resources into the interstate system. This is a transformational president, and the department is following the president’s lead. People haven’t really been thinking about these things. They have been thinking about how to build roads, how to build interstates, how to build bridges. People now are thinking differently about where they want to live, how they want to live, and how they want to be able to get around their communities.”

“When you look back when the interstate bill was signed, I’m sure people were saying, “Well, where are we going to get the money for it?” And I guarantee you this, all of the lines weren’t on the maps. Three decades later, we have an interstate system that’s a model for the world, built with Highway Trust Fund money. Eight billion dollars is a lot of money. It will help jump-start opportunities all over America. You know what? It’s an excellent start.”

1 Comment »

  1. […] Reauthorization funding bill coming up soon, along with Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood’s vision for a high-speed rail system, it’s important the funds are there.  If you’d like an […]

    Pingback by Robert Samuelson’s Column is a Train Wreck « The Dernogalizer — August 24, 2009 @ 2:56 am | Reply

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