Oberstar Predicts The Future of Transportation

In this radio interview covering high speed rail, streetcars, bicycling, and paying for the proposed $500 billion transportation bill, Chairman Oberstar of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discusses the future of transportation.

July 20, 2009, 12:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


In this radio interview, Congressman Oberstar reveals his longtime interest in transportation, noting how Europe has transformed itself since his college days in Belgium because of high speed rail, how Boise, ID scrapped its streetcar system in the 50's and now wants to rebuild it because of air pollution from cars, and his belief that Americans are turning toward transit.

"LOE: And speaking of costs, how do you intend to pay for the wonderful things you have outlined in your bill, and do I have the price tag correct – somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 billion?

OBERSTAR: Its $450 billion for the Highway Transit and Safety programs. An additional $50 billion in an infrastructure bank to support the long-term investments needed to sustain high-speed inner city passenger rail. And the highway trust fund with the gas takes highway user fee has proven very successful in the past in creating a sustainable revenue stream.

I think you want have to delay implementation of a highway user fee (gas tax?) until we've had an least two consecutive quarters of positive economic growth. And in that case then I think people would be accepting because they know where those dollars go."

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