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Neal Peirce

Neal Peirce: Cities and Suburbs Must Collaborate to Expand Transit

12:25 PM EDT on August 5, 2008

As the push for emergency transit funding moves to the Senate, syndicated columnist Neal Peirce pulls back the lens and sees a bright outlook for local rail systems. The key, he says, is whether cities and their suburbs can set up new revenue streams together:

Political reality says few if any state legislatures will enactstatewide taxes to finance metro transit systems. But they can give thegreen light to their metro regions to tax themselves. Then it's up toregional business and civic leaders, in this increasingly metropolitannation, to make a sufficiently compelling case to city and suburbanvoters alike. With long commutes increasingly unaffordable, and withcity-suburb antagonisms much milder than in past times, sellingwell-conceived regional transit plans should be achievable.

Peirce notes that cities like Denver, Charlotte, Seattle, and even
Houston are taking the initiative to fund transit expansions on their
own.

Streetsbloggers may recall that the question of how much capital spending should come from local revenue streams and how much should come from the feds cropped up repeatedly during the congestion pricing debate. Opponents argued
that more local money for the MTA would tempt Washington to decrease its contribution (while the historical record shows a constant flow from the feds as city and state funds fluctuate).

New York may be far ahead of the cities Peirce names when it comes to existing transit services, but in terms of planning for the future, are we keeping pace?

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