Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

New Investigation Finds 2,100 Transport Lobbyists Working the System

Interest groups seeking to influence transportation policy-making have long flooded the capital with campaign cash and lobbyists -- and their numbers are rising at an eye-popping rate. Nearly 1,800 interests are employing at least 2,100 transportation lobbyists to work the system in anticipation of the next federal infrastructure bill, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation unveiled today.

6a00e5538696cf883401156fccf6d2970c_320wi.jpg(Photo: Pufferfish)

The Center's work directly answers a question asked by many attendees at last week's University of Virginia infrastructure conference: How can the public be awakened to the relevance and political importance of transportation as an issue?

Unfortunately for the elite industry players who attended the conference, the answer may be that the public isn't yet aware of just how much waste is built into state and federal transportation spending. From the Center's initial report:

The matter of how and from where the federal money is actually doledout is among the biggest headaches. The majority of federal dollars forthese various transportation programs actually get distributed to stateand local governments to be spent at their discretion. But that hascaused problems.

For one thing, wrotethe Government Accountability Office last year, “Rigorous economicanalysis does not generally drive the investment decisions of state andlocal governments.” That was an understatement. Most statetransportation agencies surveyed by the GAO in 2004 — 34 out of 43 —called political support and public opinion “very important” wheninvesting federal dollars. Only eight states attributed the sameimportance to cost-benefit analyses.

With the debate in Congress currently focused not on how to reform the bloated, broken system but how long to delay reform, it's unclear whether the Center's findings can move the needle in the short term.

But that all-but-certain postponement of the next federal transportation bill makes today's report all the more shocking. Anyone who reads it will find no reason to support 12 or 18 more months of federal transportation funding distributed through an unaccountable system of state DOTs.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Are Still Unsafe

Traffic deaths are declining for those ensconced in thousands of pounds of steel. For the rest of us, not so much.

April 12, 2024

Measure HLA Is Now Officially Law for L.A. City

Check the city maps to find what bus, bike, and walk improvements are coming to streets in your neighborhood.

April 12, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Women’s Transportation Seminar

Sara Stickler of WTS International on women’s expertise in transportation and opportunities for mentorship, leadership and education.

April 11, 2024

Don’t Call Thursday’s Headlines a Comeback

Transit ridership isn't all the way back yet, but it continues to climb after collapsing during COVID. Unfortunately, the financial effects of the pandemic on transit agencies still linger.

April 11, 2024

Long-Awaited Report Reveals Widespread Parking Crime by NYPD

The overdue report confirms years of Streetsblog reporting on placard abuse, illegal parking and enforcement failures by the police under two mayors.

April 11, 2024
See all posts