Published on February 3rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan1
House GOP Trying to Take Away Your Transportation Freedom
The total loonies in the Republican branch of the House of Representatives have tossed a bill on the American public that basically attacks every form of transportation other than the automobile. It’s insane. Even some top Republicans have admonished it.
Here’s some more info from Streesblog, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and others on these two bills:
First, let me note this: while the House transportation bill has “jobs” in the title (“The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act”), it is a complete assault on transportation-related jobs.
Bike projects create more jobs per $1 spent than new road projects. So do transit projects. So do pedestrian projects. And so do road repair and maintenance projects. Yet, this bill heavily, heavily favors new road projects above all of those, and effectively kills decades of support for alternative transportation.
House Transportation Disaster Bill
Basicallly, this bill is being used as a political tool by House Speaker John Boehner. Or, he and John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, are completely insane about what they think the Senate and the U.S. public will accept.
“On behalf of the 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Americans who take more than 10 billion public transit trips annually, we are strongly opposed to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee proposal to divert $25 billion in dedicated fuels tax revenues from the Mass Transit Account. This represents nearly 50 percent of the federal investment in public transit authorized by the House surface transportation bill. This drastic change will clearly put public transportation projects at risk,” APTA writes.
“This proposal seeks to undo nearly 30 years of overwhelming bipartisan support for dedicated federal investment in public transit. Since 1983, under President Ronald Reagan, fuels tax revenues have been dedicated to public transit through the Mass Transit Account of the surface transportation legislation.
“We call on Congress to continue the long-standing highway and public transit financing partnership in place today so that our country can continue to create American jobs and foster economic growth, as well as rebuild our aging infrastructure and meet the growing demand for improved and expanded transportation.”
And here’s a complete take-down of the transportation disaster from Andy Clarke of the League of the American Bicyclists:
Surely all this money comes with a big vision and plan, right? Wrong. The bill has no vision or discernible direction short of just handing the keys of the car over to the State DOTs. Of course, it is purportedly about the safety of the traveling public – yet prohibits the funding of red light or speed cameras; eliminates the Safe Routes to School program, and allocates ten times more funding to increasing and speeding up traffic than it does to safety projects. Of course, it is supposedly about relieving congestion – yet eliminates most of the funding for any alternatives to driving alone and promises more and bigger highways for more and bigger vehicles which results in, if the last 60 years of evidence is anything to go by, more people getting stuck in traffic for longer than ever.
Perhaps the bill is about jobs and infrastructure? For sure, it’s about building a lot of highways. Unfortunately, it’s not so much about rebuilding and repairing the highways we’ve already got, which is an admirable goal we can all share AND sustains more jobs than building new highways we then can’t afford to maintain. And sadly there is NO place in the bill for cost-effective programs to create a more walk-able and bike-able transportation system for people that also creates more jobs per dollar spent than new highways.
Of course, we’re biased. The bill would be a disaster for bicycling and walking programs, because they are all gone. That should matter to you whether you ride a bike or not (we’re going to assume that you do walk and need to get across the street every now and then) because the principles of local control, providing transportation choices, and improving the quality of life in communities are important way beyond the bicycling community. That’s what investing in bicycling and walking is all about.
The tiny sliver of funding – just 1.5 percent – currently carved out to serve the needs of people making 12% of trips and comprising 14% of fatal crash victims, clearly is a major irritant to these agencies and their political allies. No doubt they will celebrate the return of this money and each of the 50 agencies can build another few hundred feet of Interstate instead…But it all adds up, right. Because they are also getting back all the money from discretionary programs and a 5% bonus from those high priority projects that won’t be foisted on them this time around.
More from Clarke:
And you can see the list in text here.
Senate Transportation Bill
Meanwhile, the Senate Banking Committee has actually unanimously passed a two-year transportation bill with bi-partisan approval.
“The bill includes some reforms — such as allowing federal funds to be spent on transit operations — that transit advocates have been pushing for,” Streetsblog DC notes.
“The Senate bill’s progress draws a stark contrast with the legislative efforts underway in the House. The House bill has also moved forward at an aggressive pace, but it has looked worse and worse at every step. The most recent revelation, that the bill’s financing component would potentially eviscerate dedicated funding for transit, is only the latest in a long line of attacks on walking, biking, and transit.”
According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, “It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”
Photo Credit: SpeakerBoehner