Leading the Charge Against Public Investment in Mass Transit

A recent opinion piece in <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> on the reasons why "Americans don't want to live in Ray LaHood's car-free utopia" is garnering a lot of attention in the planning and transportation worlds.
April 17, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In the opinion piece, the Journal's editors slam the ongoing struggle to complete a new multi-year transportation bill as bereft of any "new thinking." They point to estimates that "traffic gridlock costs motorists more than $100 billion a year in delays and wasted gas" as evidence of "inefficient transportation spending" in which 35 cents of every gas tax dollar is "intercepted by the public transit lobby and Congressional earmarkers." According the the editors, who clearly aren't traffic engineers, "This congestion could be alleviated by building more highway lanes where they are most needed and using market-based pricing-such as tolls-for using roads during peak travel times."

In attacking Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's "strange 'livability' agenda" wherein people can actually complete a daily chore or two without getting in an automobile, they conclude that, "If Congress really wants to enhance the livability of cities and suburbs, it will pass a highway bill that builds more roads."

It's hard to know where to begin in refuting the naive comments made in the article, but Janet Kavinoky at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Free Enterprise blog, of all places, takes a shot. Citing their strong belief that "transit is a critical means of addressing congestion and driving economic development in many areas around the country", Kavinoky, speaking on behalf of the Chamber, argues that "the federal government plays an important and necessary role in infrastructure investment."

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Published on Sunday, April 15, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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