Stimulus For Transit, Un-Stimulus For Auto Industry

Funding in the federal stimulus package for high speed rail has been cheered by transit advocates across the country. This opinion piece argues that in addition, funds should be taken away from the auto industry.

"Compared with the last eight years of the Bush administration, this is a miracle shift of mindset. Mass transit and high-speed rail were given a massive upgrade in their share of transportation spending. In the last federal budget, the government gave highways four times more money than mass transit. The stimulus brings the ratio under 2-to-1. Compared with how some Republicans and the Bush administration kept trying to kill Amtrak, Obama's new Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood nearly made transit advocates faint by saying the stimulus funding will 'transform intercity transportation in America, reduce our carbon footprint, relieve congestion on the roads and in the skies, and take advantage of a mode of transportation that has already benefited Europe and Japan for many years.'"

"For the full transformation of transportation, Obama must move more mountains of mindset. For instance, it makes no sense to give General Motors and Chrysler an additional $21.6 billion in bailouts on top of their previous $17.4 billion, when they are cutting 50,000 jobs and still have not offered a credible plan for a fuel-efficient future. The administration should cut off the cash and let Ford, and the American plants of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, salvage any GM and Chrysler assets valuable to them. Obama should instead invest the bailout billions into transportation that moves billions of people, and creates several times more jobs than what GM and Chrysler say they will lose."

Full Story: The transformation of transportation



Michael Lewyn's picture

Not quite 2-1

Jackson's "2-1" figure includes high speed rail, which (because it involves connections between cities hundreds of miles away) competes with airports more than it competes with highways.

But from the standpoint of your average transit user who is interested in getting around within a metro area, the gap between highways and local transit is more important. And in this area, the stimulus creates almost the same funding gap as Bush's last budget- a bit over 3-1.

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