Conservative Think Tank: Invest in Transit to Boost Metro Economies

Here’s a refreshing take on metropolitan economic health from the right side of the aisle: The conservative Free Congress Foundation says it’s time America got serious about investing in transit in its metro areas.

Young, educated people are demanding better transit options and returning to cities, notes a new report by the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank. Image: ##http://byuite.groups.et.byu.net/FrontRunnerTrip2010Fall.php##Brigham Young University Civil and Environmental Engineering##

This think tank, founded by conservative Paul Weyrich (also co-founder of the Heritage Foundation), released a report [PDF] last week extolling the economic benefits of transit investment and healthy cities. The Free Congress Foundation is also holding congressional hearings on its findings on the Hill, bringing some much-needed conservative support for walkable, connected cities to Washington politics.

The report argues that returns on investment in highways are declining. Author Michael Bronzini says healthy, walkable cities are important to attracting talent in a knowledge-based, 21st century economy.

“The history of metropolitan area development in the U.S. since World War II to the present is well known, and has often been described as the ‘flight to the suburbs,'” says Bronzini. “More recently, many metropolitan areas have been seeing somewhat of a return to the city.”

“These new urban residents want walkable communities, social and cultural amenities and good public transportation services that will enable them to access all the opportunities that vibrant central cities have to offer,” Bronzini adds.

While some prominent conservative electeds have starved transit and approached the movement toward cities as a political threat, others, like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, have shown leadership and recognized the economic value of creating more walkable places. The Free Congress Foundation’s report is more evidence that Republican transit opponents don’t speak for all conservatives when it comes to transportation policy.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Drivers Cover Just 51 Percent of U.S. Road Spending

|
There’s a persistent misconception in American culture that transit is a big drain on public coffers while roads conveniently and totally pay for themselves through the magic of gas taxes. And that used to be true — at least for interstate highways, a fraction of the total road network. But that was many, many failed […]

The Koch Brothers’ War on Transit

|
Transit advocates around the country were transfixed by a story in Tennessee this April, when the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity made a bid to pre-emptively kill Nashville bus rapid transit. It was an especially brazen attempt by Charles and David Koch’s political network to strong-arm local transportation policy makers. But it was far from […]

Lawmakers Score Conservative Bona Fides By Attacking Efficient Transport

|
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Congressman Tom Graves (R-Georgia) have introduced a bill to eliminate federal involvement in transportation policy, which would spell disaster for funding that supports transit, biking, and walking. A largely symbolic vote in favor of “devolution” will allow Republican members of Congress to demonstrate their conservative bona fides. The Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) […]