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Republican Plan to Shortchange Rail May Be Shortsighted

Eric Jaffe pushes back on the Republican Study Committee's proposal to cut over $6 billion in rail funding over the next ten years.
January 29, 2011, 11am PST | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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While conceding that cuts must be made to federal transportation funding, Jaffe and other transit advocates worry that the Committee's proposal places an unfair burden on rail.

Jaffe says proposal supporters' argument that rail requires significantly more in subsidies than roads fails to account for the full social costs of each transportation mode, such as environmental impacts and money and time lost to congestion. Furthermore, Jaffe argues, making the initial investment required to create a comprehensive rail network will likely reap long-term benefits even if it seems unprofitable in the short-term, as did the initial investment required to construct the nation's highway system.

Jaffe writes:

"None of this is to say the federal government should not cut back its rail and transit spending. All right, so it is. But more critically, it's a reminder that we do, in [proposal supporter Bob Poole's] words, 'need to be clear' about the full benefits of balanced transportation, even when that clarity demands an inconvenient degree of subtlety."

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Published on Thursday, January 27, 2011 in The Infrastructurist
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