Friday, August 31, 2007

Poor Funding Means Poor Support...

As Ezra Klein points out, you can't expect something to work very well if its poorly funded. The bootstrap argument doesn't really work in those situations.

As it turns out, when you don't fund crucial public services, they don't work very well. It's a fun cycle: The DC Metro has no dedicated source of funding nor particularly united constituency, so it gets shortchanged come funding time. Inevitably, the lack of funds degrade service and lead to failures. This makes the Metro less pleasant, driving people away, serving as an argument that government can't do anything right, and giving fuel to those who say that we should reinvest in more roads and private transportation infrastructure.
Now with the bridge collapse and a number of articles coming out about low funding for the FTA, people are starting to pay more attention as to why some things don't work as well as they possibly should and perhaps why sometimes transit gets a bad wrap.

As Ryan Avent pointed out, here's the result: This year, the government will allot $1.4 billion in federal spending for transit, and $42 billion in federal spending for highways. Sure is a mystery why our public transit systems don't work better....I think a bigger problem is that the sorts of public transportation that are beloved as an alternative to cars -- namely, systems that don't use roads, and thus evade traffic -- need to hit a critical mass of lines, stops, and, stations before they become a real useful alternative. Building that sort of infrastructure takes time, and our politics doesn't tend to like solutions that won't solve anything before the next few elections end.
Very true, we need to start thinking to the future. Or we might end up building these things under the light of a darkened sun. I'm glad bigger blogs are picking up on this.

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