Getting Our Transportation Priorities Straight

This morning on the Streetsblog Network, Cap’n Transit is talking about setting budget priorities in lean times. Maintaining efficient, low-cost transit, he argues, should take precedence over keeping bridges toll-free — especially if there’s no political will to raise taxes:

3065141497_41b28b50fc.jpgIn tough times, transit should come first. (Photo: Kevin H. via Flickr)

If your personal income drops by half, do you just spend half as
much at the supermarket and half as much at fancy restaurants? No,
because feeding yourself is a higher priority than feeling pampered,
and groceries are a more efficient way of feeding yourself. If instead
you cut the grocery budget by a quarter and the restaurant budget by
three-quarters, you can be just as well-nourished.

It’s the same
with transit. Government funding for transit doesn’t just stimulate the
economy by moving people around. It furthers social justice through
access for all. It helps make our world safer, healthier and more
sustainable by getting people out of their cars. These should be the
priorities of government, whether the economy is good or bad, and no
matter how much the government has to spend.

The government should spend more on
transit, but it’s not willing to raise more in taxes. The money should
come from other things, like roads. Spending priorities should reflect
overall priorities, and paying billions for free highways and bridges for cars should be a low priority.

It’s
as simple as that: free bridges for drivers=low priority. Low-cost
transit=high priority. Time to get our priorities in order. 

More from around the network: Bike Omaha posts on the huge economic benefit cycling provides to the state of Wisconsin. WalkBikeJersey on a New Jersey statute that prohibits new highway off-ramps near schools. And BicycleLaw.com on the negligent driver’s stock defense: "I didn’t see him."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Frustration With Stop-Gap Transpo Funding Shows at DOT Town Hall

|
Agency Expects Congress to Authorize Third Round of TIGER Grants U.S. DOT’s top leaders (save Secretary Ray LaHood) fielded questions about the next long-term transportation bill this morning as part of a “town hall” session at agency headquarters. The conference, the sixth and final stop on a national listening tour, was billed as a chance […]

Where Does Bernie Sanders Stand on Transportation and Cities?

|
With Bernie Sanders pulling off a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, it’s time to take a closer look at his transportation policy platform. Two months ago, Clinton released a transportation platform that echoes a lot of the Obama administration’s agenda without including any ideas that might really upset the highway-centric status quo. Does Sanders […]

Tonight: PBS on Transit, States, and the Stimulus

|
Streetsbloggers will want to tune in to PBS tonight for the latest installment in the Blueprint America series. At 8:30 (in New York), NOW will look at where all that stimulus cash is headed. Here’s the teaser: President Barack Obama’s stimulus money is nearly out the door and on its way to the states, but […]