News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 1January 23, 2006
In This Issue …
- Governors Push Transit Infrastructure InvestmentTransit Ridership Growth Continues
- Critics Attack Transit ‘Dependency’ Funding
- Commission Urges New Approach to Federal Infrastructure Funding
- New Findings on Senior Mobility
- News Updates
Governors Push Transit, Infrastructure Investment
MANY SEE OPPORTUNITY FOR POLITICAL, PRACTICAL GAINS
A growing number of state chief executives, regardless of party, region or tenure, are promoting significant new investment in infrastructure and transit. The move comes on the heels of several successful, high-profile statewide ballot measures last year in New York, Washington, Colorado, Ohio and Maine. Another factor may have been witnessing the winning, transportation-focused campaign of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine in November. Whatever the cause, 2006 has already seen major investment proposals unveiled in California, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia. Others are expected to follow. The specific approaches to new investment may vary, but the themes are consistent. Citizens are demanding better mobility and increased choice. Businesses see economic value in the investment. Responding to these sentiments, governors and legislators appear poised to put record transportation spending proposals before voters and in state budgets this year.
Read the LA Times article, "Paving Reelection Plans With Vows to Ease Traffic"
Transit Ridership Growth Increases
THIRD QUARTER DATA FINDS TRANSIT USE UP, DRIVING DOWN
According to new transit ridership data, high gas prices may have pushed more people to use transit, and those users are continuing to use public transportation even after prices at the pump began to stabilize. For the third quarter of 2005, transit ridership grew by 3.3% when compared to the same period in 2004. Much of the growth in the third quarter is likely the result of a spike in gas prices. Early indicators, in the form of surveys of transit agencies conducted in November, suggest that the increased use continued even after prices eased a bit at the end of the year. At the same, the Federal Highway Administration reported a slight decline in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) of .2%. Transit ridership grew in every category with light rail leading the way with an 8.8%. Some systems registered dramatic increases.
Read the full report.
Critics Attack Transit ‘Dependency’, Funding
EVENTS IN NEW ORLEANS & NEW YORK FEATURED IN LATEST CHARGES, O’TOOLE REPORT ATTACKS FUNDING
Some critics have seized on the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the high-profile inconvenience of the New York transit strike to attack public transportation. According to critics, the two events signal the danger of a community becoming too dependent on public transportation. These critics call for shifting more resources into highway spending. Their arguments ignore the dangerous impracticality of limiting mobility options.
Randal O’Toole has released a new salvo in his long-running crusade against transportation choice. His latest report, A Desire Named Streetcar, suggests that the existence of federal support causes communities to pursue transit projects he deems “wasteful.” He suggests that the solution is to “devolve … funding entirely to state and local governments.” His argument is undermined by both short and long-term trends in ridership. He also ignores the fact that while federal aid has risen in overall terms, when measured proportionally against highway spending transit funding has been essentially level for more than a decade. At the same time, the number of communities clamoring for transit funding has risen.
CFTE provides an array of research and tips for countering the critics of public transportation.
Commission Urges New Approach to Federal Infrastructure Funding
CALLS FOR NEW FEDERAL CORPORATION TO CLOSE FUNDING GAP
One of the nation’s preeminent investment bankers and a prominent former U.S. Senator are leading a new Commission on Public Infrastructure for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Felix Rohatyn and Warren Rudman have outlined an ambitious plan to close a national infrastructure investment gap estimated at $1.6 trillion over five years. The two co-chairs are urging Congress and the Administration to consider creating a new National Investment Corporation with the authority to issue bond to finance projects. The new body would eventually replace current dedicated trust funds. The plan is loosely modeled on the European Investment Bank approach to infrastructure finance.
Click to read their recent Washington Post Op-Ed, "It's Time to Rebuild America."
New Findings Released on Senior Mobility
SURVEY FINDS MOBILITY A MAJOR CONCERN FOR SENIORS
In December, Harris Interactive released findings from a national survey of seniors demonstrating that mobility and transportation are major concerns. The survey found that 82% of those surveyed were worried about being stranded when they were no longer able to drive. More than 80% believe public transportation to be safer, easier and more convenient than driving. Two-thirds of the seniors in the surveyed wanted to see greater access and investment in public transportation in their community. Demographers believe that the U.S. population aged 65 and older with exceed 70 million by 2030. An earlier study found the nation woefully unprepared to cope with the transportation needs of the growing senior population. That report found that more than half of all non-drivers age 65 or older stay home largely because transportation options are limited, particularly in rural and smaller communities.
Get complete survey results.
CFTE monitors new developments in public transportation across the nation, including upcoming and potential elections. Click here to access these and other news stories.
Check out our 2006 news archive for recent articles.