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

Transit Priority Streets Making a Comeback in D.C.

|
Forty years ago, the Washington region had 60 miles of bus lanes on its streets, a network that was erased once Metrorail started operating. Today passengers make about half a million trips on Metro buses each weekday, not a great deal less than Metrorail, but there is no network of priority streets for buses. That’s starting […]

Menendez Proposes Tax Credit for Transit-Oriented Development

|
New construction projects that are within a half-mile of transit stations and exceeding national energy-efficiency standards would be eligible for a tax credit under legislation introduced today by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the senior member of the Banking Committee’s transit panel. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (Photo: Paterson Online) Menendez’s "green buildings" tax credit is aimed […]

Transit Priority Streets Making a Comeback in D.C.

|
Forty years ago, the Washington region had 60 miles of bus lanes on its streets, a network that was erased once Metrorail started operating. Today passengers make about half a million trips on Metro buses each weekday, not a great deal less than Metrorail, but there is no network of priority streets for buses. That’s starting […]

The Boxer/Inhofe Amendment: Not Green Enough

|
A revised draft of the Boxer/Inhofe amendment just came over the transom from a source in DC close to the negotiations (PDF).  This is a draft from yesterday and negotiations are ongoing, so expect changes.  Specifically, enviros are trying to get a "green screen" put in place, so that USDOT can pick from the priority […]