The Transportation Bill- Not As Bad As You Might Think
Congress recently passed a two-year transportation funding bill, to less-than-glowing reviews from environmentalist-oriented transportation lobbies.
But compared to the last time Congress swung sharply to the right (after the 1994 midterm elections) public transit did pretty well. The new law increases transit spending slightly, and streamlines the "New Starts" program governing construction of new transit facilities. By contrast, in the mid-1990s federal operating assistance for public transit was virtually cut in half while highway spending continued to increase.
Bicycle/pedestrian spending did not do as well. However, transit spending is much more significant: roughly $8 billion per year as opposed to less than $1 billion for bike/ped spending. Thus, federal transit spending has a much bigger impact on Americans' daily lives, which means that from the pro-transit point of view the transportation bill is, if not a victory, at least a bullet dodged.
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