Transportation Stimulus You Can't Believe In
Goddess, there are so many good blogs out there and so Little Time (for me at least, today!) Check out this post, and stay a while to read some of the others there. Bottom line: all that crap we've been hearing about "billions and billions" for transportation-related stimulus and development? Not even enough to bring our transportation reality back to where it once was when almost-properly funded (live links at original):
House Appropriations Committee provides us a draft summary (PDF) of the economic stimulus bill.
We’re not particularly impressed; compared to $30 billion for highway construction, there is $10 billion for non-automobile uses here, and only $1 billion of that will go to New Start projects, $2 billion to modernization, and $1 billion to intercity rail. $6 billion will go to new or renovated equipment such as buses.
Why is this plan insufficient? For one, as the bill points out, there is a $50 billion backlog of repairs needed to be made to public transport, but only $2 billion is allocated for such investments. As we wrote early in the history of this blog, the number one need for transit in the United States is modernization of existing transit systems. New York’s Subway and Chicago’s L, among many others, desperately need to be rebuilt. This bill does not do much to help along that process.
Second, the bill does virtually nil for intercity rail, providing only $1.1 billion for Amtrak and state-based rail provision. The bill notes that the Northeast Corridor alone needs $10 billion in upgrades. How will this funding solve that problem, or tackle those of other corridors around the country? Where’s the money for high-speed rail operations?
Third, there’s only $1 billion set aside here for New Start grants. The fact of the matter is that the Second Avenue Subway’s First Phase alone will cost more than $4 billion. This money will do little to improve funding for transit agencies that are excited to get new rail and bus lines under construction.
I've got to run, but I'll just say what you already know: transportation funding, smart, truly 21st century transportation solutions, are absolutely essential to improving and sustaining our economy. The 'everybody drives 50miles both ways to work' model just isn't going to cut it, for so many reasons.
These funding games have got to stop. This is just ridiculous. The chatter I'm getting: the reason for this ineffectual and paltry and mis-emphasized funding is a direct result of the need to pay for- you guessed it- the tax cuts.