Call to Action: Win Back Stimulus Funding for Transit Service

There’s a sense of urgency on the Streetsblog Network this morning. Transportation for America, using media reports of projected cuts to transit services across the country, has put together a map that dramatizes just how painful those cuts could be:

cuts_map.jpg

The far-reaching and broad cuts will directly affect transit employees and riders who are among the most vulnerable in this time of economic upheaval. More than 20 million trips are taken each day on these 38 systems, and the scores of low-income citizens and 1/3 of Americans who are unable to or choose not to drive could find themselves out in the
cold.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has spoken out about the way transit got squeezed as the stimulus package was put together, and he’s set to introduce an amendment to the recovery bill that would direct at least $2 billion to transit
operating costs, preventing at least some of the potential layoffs John Kaehny wrote about here on Streetsblog last week. In order for the amendment to be considered, though, it has to be brought to the floor of the House. Here’s what T4A has to say:

The only thing preventing his amendment from reaching the floor for a vote is the House Rules Committee, which will determine this Tuesday by 3:30 p.m. which amendments to include with the House recovery package. So we’re asking all of you to weigh in with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Chair of the House Rules Committee, through a quick phone call before Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Click here for information on how to call and what to say.

Also on the network today: Greater Greater Washington delves into DeFazio’s criticism of Obama economic adviser Larry Summers, Kaid Benfield on NRDC Switchboard discusses how "transit without land use change will not take us where we need to go," and WashCycle wonders if an Idaho stop for bicyclists could work in DC.

  • Larry Littlefield

    This didn’t go through earlier, but there are reports of (moving down the food chain) auto parts suppliers looking for a $10 billion bailout at

    http://www.ft.com

    And California towns bailout out auto dealers at

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123292845938013899.html .

    Which reminds me of something. Each year I compile U.S. Census Bureau data on the number of public employees (per 100,000 residents) in different places by category of service (ie. public schools, police, transit). Since NYC has such a large transit system, such a comparison would make it seem over-staffed.

    So to put the number in context, I also include data on the number of workers in “auto-related” industries per 100,000 residents. Just the local ones, such as dealers, gas stations, car washes, parking lots, repair shops, wholesale trade, etc. Not motor vehicle and parts manufactuers.

    The data shows that we save more jobs from transit than the transit system costs, and other data shows we save more money on automobiles not owned than we spend on transit, including both rider and taxpayer costs. And that’s the way I generally present it.

    Looked at another way, however, the motor vehicle world is a massive, organized political constituency. Really, really massive. In 2007, 481 auto related jobs per 100,000 residents in NYC, but 1,431 in the U.S., 1,136 in the downstate suburbs, 1,426 in upstate metro areas, 1,347 in rural upstate NY, and 1,263 in NJ.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Larry – I’m feeling a little dense today, could you rephrase your statement re: saving more jobs from transit than the system costs. Not quite following you there. Thanks.

  • I called, and also posted a hastily written Dailykos diary on it:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/1/26/121722/653/384/689136

    The call was very quick and pleasant.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Larry – I’m feeling a little dense today, could you rephrase your statement re: saving more jobs from transit than the system costs. Not quite following you there. Thanks.”

    The extent to which NYC employment is above average in public transportaiton is less than the extent to which it is below average in auto-related sectors, meaning there are fewer jobs in transportation overall.

    Since that saves money, there is also less consumer spending on transportation overall. Which means more consumer spending on other things.

    The data is not directly comparable, because the government employment is “full time equivalent” and weights part timers less, but for mass transit the figures are 79 public transit workers per 100,000 residents for the U.S., vs. 579 in NYC, 314 in the Downstate Suburbs, 78 in Upstate metro areas, 138 in NJ.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Gotcha – thanks. Time for another coffee.

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