Robert Reich Stumps for Transit

<p>Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gives his two cents about the need to expand public transit.</p>
June 7, 2008, 7am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"For years, policymakers have wondered just how high gas prices would have to go before drivers switch to public transportation. The answer has been assumed to be very high because Americans supposedly are in love with our cars. Yet now we know there's a tipping point, and it's not quite as high as policymakers have guessed. It's around $4 a gallon. We know that's the tipping piont because suddenly millions of Americans are switching to buses, trains and subways to go to work.

Rather than bemoaning this remarkable turnaround we should be celebrating it because public transit not only reduces congestion but also reduces the nation's energy needs and cuts carbon emissions that bring on global warming.

Problem is, the nation doesn't have nearly enough public transportation to handle the new demand. Even more absurdly, right now when it's needed the most, public transportation across the land is being cut back. This is because transit costs are soaring by the same skyrocketing fuel prices that are forcing people out of their cars, at the same time transit revenues are shrinking because most transit systems depend largely on sales taxes, now dwindling as consumer purchases decline in this recession. A survey of the nation's public transit agencies released last Friday showed 21 percent of rail operators now cutting back and 19 percent of bus operators."

Thanks to Jeff Wood

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Published on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 in Robert Reich's Blog
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