Of Course the GOP Transportation Platform Is a Catastrophe

In the past few years, Congressional Republicans tried and failed to turn the federal transportation program into a highways-only affair. Still, the GOP isn’t giving up on eliminating federal funds for transit, walking, and biking.

Donald Trump may have made his name building on the most transit-rich real estate in the nation, but he hasn’t changed the party’s stance on transportation at all. The transportation plank in the newly updated GOP platform [PDF] is as extreme and hostile to cities as ever.

Here are some of the lowlights:

1. Eliminating federal funding for transit, walking, and biking

The Republican Party platform calls for cutting all federal funding for transit, walking, and biking.

The loss of federal funding would cause chaos for transit agencies and transit riders, disrupting and diminishing capacity to operate, maintain, and expand transit systems. The reason this proposal goes nowhere in Congress is that even a sizable share of Republicans realize it would be disastrous to kneecap transit in the nation’s urban centers, where so much economic activity is concentrated.

During a Bloomberg Politics event on infrastructure yesterday at the RNC, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer (a big Trump booster) toed the “no gas tax for transit” line. She suggested that transit could be funded by a “user fee” on “ticket sales” — apparently unfamiliar with the term “fares,” let alone the fact that roads don’t come close to paying for themselves either.

Republicans are also out to squelch the measly 2 percent of federal transportation funding that goes to walking and biking projects. The GOP platform specifically calls out “bike-share programs, sidewalks, recreational trails” as undeserving of federal support.

2. Obama’s conspiracy to “coerce people out of their cars”

The GOP has gotten away from explicitly calling any attempt to improve transit, walking, or biking a United Nations conspiracy — apparently that was deemed too crazy. But it’s still completely acceptable to accuse President Obama of orchestrating the conspiracy instead.

Obama has secured some additional funds for transit and rail via relatively small programs like TIGER, and may adjust federal rules to nudge state DOTs in a more multi-modal direction. This amounts to tinkering around the margins of federal transportation policy, which remains heavily tilted toward highways and allocates tens of billions of dollars a year for roads. For this, the GOP accuses the Obama administration of trying to “coerce people out of their cars” and “social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.”

3. No mention of the 35,000 traffic deaths on American streets every year

Traffic fatalities are on the rise and the Centers for Disease Control recently pointed out that America is falling far behind peer nations when it comes to reducing the death toll. But the GOP surface transportation platform doesn’t mention safety at all. The document does refer glowingly to the 1980 Republican platform, which led to the revocation of the national speed limit, freeing states like Texas to raise limits to speeds like 85 miles per hour.

  • Kevin Love

    “The document does refer glowingly to the 1980 Republican platform…”

    And does it refer equally glowingly to Ronald Reagan’s implementation of that platform with a gas tax increase in 1982?

  • tomwest

    Don’t confuse things with facts!

  • Adam Herstein

    Is Bob Gunderson the leader of the Republican Party?

  • Chicagoan

    We’re doomed as a nation.

  • AlexWithAK

    I believe it was also during Reagan that the transit funding portion was carved out.

  • Kevin Love

    No, things will be difficult, but we will survive. If there is a revolution in Saudi Arabia and car culture comes to an end overnight, it will be stressful. But we will be far, far better off.

  • AlexWithAK

    This is often predicated on the notion that the federal government should only be involved in interstate transportation funding, not local. Of course that’s bullshit since plenty of road projects with federal funding are clearly locally focused. But they can justify it because, by their nature, highways carry interstate traffic along with the local traffic.

    There’s actually some merit to shifting funding down to a more local level, but it would need to include a large downsizing of the federal government’s involvement in all transportation funding, including highways. Clearly that’s not what the GOP has in mind here. It’s strictly ideological.

  • JustJake

    I agree the GOP party is a catastrophe, but the extrapolation beyond that is debate able. Those with more politically “progressive” identification seem to have taken their pet transportation vision too far, and do not have the level of support they purport. The anti-parking aspect, alone, is indicative of the activist element, and makes the subject divisive. As are the attempts to preach & dictate how things need to be. Without the support of the bulk of the people, any improvement is difficult.

  • John Riecke

    I’ll give up transit and sidewalks if they restrict themselves to repairing interstates.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Please do a little fact checking…

    In 1987 (Reagan) the speed limit was raised to 65.
    in 1995 (Clinton) it was fully repealed and returned to the states.

    Also it was the GOP, championed by President Bush, that originally mandated the 2% funding for bikes and walking.

    Both parties can take credit and blame.

  • yermom72

    “eliminating federal funds for transit, walking, and biking.”

    But don’t you libtards realize, none of those are necessary anymore, because Uber.

    From the GOP Platform:

    “We
    want government to encourage the sharing econ-
    omy and on-demand platforms to compete in an
    open market, and we believe public policies should
    encourage the innovation and competition that are
    essential for an Internet of Things to thrive.”

  • SD70MACMAN

    There’s a certain irony that a community-owned resource like transit, which is available to the entire community at a low cost, isn’t considered part of the sharing economy. Yet, a private individual’s car acting as a chauffeur on behalf of a private company at a much higher cost is sharing.

  • Eric

    I honestly can’t tell if that is or isn’t sarcasm…

  • Johnny Bench Called

    But you have to admit it fits with the G.O.P.’s platform quite nicely.

  • Johnny Bench Called

    “As are the attempts to preach & dictate how things need to be.”

    Anyone supporting any ideology ever is making some statement about how things need to be regardless of political affiliation. What would be the point of having any vision for the world if the person having it didn’t actually want it to happen or take action to persuade people to adopt it?

  • Edward

    In today’s environment Reagan would be slightly left of center.

  • Vooch

    the way to Repubs heart is to hammer home the point that mass motoring requires lavish susidies and is socialist.

  • M.

    Fracking.

  • SDGreg

    The unstated part of choice is you get choice if you are rich enough to afford it.

  • Kevin Love

    And you get lots of choice if you are rich enough to afford to buy politicians.

  • Mike M

    It is not the federal government’s role. In case you haven’t heard we have a $22,000,000,000,000 national debt and that doesn’t take into account the funds that have been stolen by both parties but particularly the “D” parry to buy votes. If these deficits are considered the number is projected to be more in the $70,000,000,000,000. In case each little leftist extremist hasn’t ever taken an economics class or understand what that means, allow me to explain, the dollar is as good as dead and your leftist extremism, do things for me because I want it attitude means that my children will be shackled and struggle to achieve the same American dream prior generations have known.

    I ride about 125+- a week and here’s a suggestion, if you want it pay for it at a state or local level you entitled little children. The candy store is or should be closed.

  • Mike

    If you’re not being sarcastic, I hope you acknowledge that the money spent on roads and highways is what’s really bankrupting us and that if car drivers want open smooth roads then they should pay for it too.

  • Mike M

    Acknowledged!

  • Mike M

    And JFK would be a “radical right wing extremist”

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