Conservative Think Tank: Invest in Transit to Boost Metro Economies

Here’s a refreshing take on metropolitan economic health from the right side of the aisle: The conservative Free Congress Foundation says it’s time America got serious about investing in transit in its metro areas.

Young, educated people are demanding better transit options and returning to cities, notes a new report by the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank. Image: ##http://byuite.groups.et.byu.net/FrontRunnerTrip2010Fall.php##Brigham Young University Civil and Environmental Engineering##

This think tank, founded by conservative Paul Weyrich (also co-founder of the Heritage Foundation), released a report [PDF] last week extolling the economic benefits of transit investment and healthy cities. The Free Congress Foundation is also holding congressional hearings on its findings on the Hill, bringing some much-needed conservative support for walkable, connected cities to Washington politics.

The report argues that returns on investment in highways are declining. Author Michael Bronzini says healthy, walkable cities are important to attracting talent in a knowledge-based, 21st century economy.

“The history of metropolitan area development in the U.S. since World War II to the present is well known, and has often been described as the ‘flight to the suburbs,'” says Bronzini. “More recently, many metropolitan areas have been seeing somewhat of a return to the city.”

“These new urban residents want walkable communities, social and cultural amenities and good public transportation services that will enable them to access all the opportunities that vibrant central cities have to offer,” Bronzini adds.

While some prominent conservative electeds have starved transit and approached the movement toward cities as a political threat, others, like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, have shown leadership and recognized the economic value of creating more walkable places. The Free Congress Foundation’s report is more evidence that Republican transit opponents don’t speak for all conservatives when it comes to transportation policy.

  • Justice McPherson

    Is this a new printing? It sounds a lot like the one i’ve had for a couple years.
    Is it this one, a new edition of the same, or a completely new report?
    Weyrich, Paul M., and William S. Lind. Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation. 1ST ed. Reconnecting America, 2009.

  • John Dough

    The PDF link doesn’t work.

  • Andy Guillermina

    In the event that the us government truly desired to increase transit ridership, they would consider which $200 zillion as well as discover a way of having much more steady functional financing in order to transit techniques such as the TTC, to allow them to enhance support amounts, construct capability, and gives a far more persuasive high quality associated with support which will persuade individuals to turn out to be normal transit customers.

    Obviously, enhancing transit support had been in no way truly the Traditional objective using the plan. Certain, they might increase functional financing and find out much better transit support consequently. However there is no photo-op or even politics effect with this. However having a taxes credit score, you are reminded each year from taxes period since the Conservatives attempt to purchase your goodwill with your personal cash.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Yes, it is good for the business of cities to have good transit, walking and biking conditions. Here in NYC we’ve been working on the Bike Friendly Business campaign to re-inforce this concept one small business at a time. A surprisingly overwhelming majority of business owners and managers are willing to declare themselves “bike friendly” because they see that customers arriving by bike are good for business.

    The Western European cities that some bike lane critics like to lampoon in the media are mostly thriving economically, especially in pedestrianized and bike-heavy areas. (Berlin and Copenhagen both come to mind).

  • Sorry. That should be fixed now.

  • david vartanoff

    The late Paul Weyrich was afflicted w/ a love for rail which his otherwise far Right philosophic POV could not apparently erase. FCF used to have a transit news page, Weyrich supported Amtrak, and FCF published a rail oriented magazine for many years full of railfan generated articles on the resurrection of rail transit in the US.
    The website once had a wonderful article explaining that conservatives should support rail transit so that dad wouldn’t need a car to commute and mom could stay home to raise the kids in some retro Ozzie and Harriet fantasy suburb.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Seven Transportation Improvements Everyone Can Agree On

|
The Reason Foundation, a free-market think tank, is not always a transportation reformer’s best friend. Its scholars gave Florida Gov. Rick Scott inaccurate advice he then used to justify killing high-speed rail in his state. They want to prevent the gas tax from funding “peripheral” programs like transit and active transportation. But Reason Foundation experts have teamed up with […]

Transit’s Identity Crisis: Social Service or Economic Engine?

|
Increasingly, transit investments are framed in terms of economic development, rather than public service. Cities conceive of new rail lines with the condo developer or tourist in mind, ignoring the low-income commuter who can’t afford a car and the senior who relies on transit to get to the grocery store. Yonah Freemark at the Transport […]

Lawmakers Score Conservative Bona Fides By Attacking Efficient Transport

|
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Congressman Tom Graves (R-Georgia) have introduced a bill to eliminate federal involvement in transportation policy, which would spell disaster for funding that supports transit, biking, and walking. A largely symbolic vote in favor of “devolution” will allow Republican members of Congress to demonstrate their conservative bona fides. The Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) […]