Monday, March 17, 2008

"He Had No Transportation Experience"

Anyone know an arabian horse judge for the DOT job? Today in the Washington Post there was an expose on Tyler Duval, a Bush appointee because of connections ("It was a friend of a friend thing") and DJ Gribbin who was a family friend of Dick Cheney. Their goal is to reduce the roll of government in transportation expenditures and instead privatize everything. But transit means nothing to them because as it stands, it can't be sold off to the highest bidder. So as we've been saying, they have been trying to kill transit as evidenced by their recent try to get toll roads into the new starts program.
Even if the next president reverses its policies, the Bush administration will leave a legacy of new toll roads across the country, a growing number of public roads leased to private companies, and dozens of stalled commuter rail, streetcar and subway projects -- including the $5 billion extension of Metro to Dulles International Airport.
As mentioned in a post by Steve Davis at Smart Growth America, one of the targets Duval and Gribbin hope to get rid of with congestion pricing is earmarks. But as he also mentions, earmarks are a small part of the total expenditures with most of the money going to state DOTs who spend it without goals or measures of success on freeways. But many of the earmarks are projects that have merit, but can't wrestle funding away from We've seen this in the last week where there has been a fight over an earmark for the Central Corridor, a very worthy project.

But here's a catch with the congestion money giveaways. The funding for those pilot congestion pricing projects came from funds that usually go to replacing buses in cities and the small starts program. Congestion pricing has nothing to do with funding for buses in rural areas or in cities that need to replace older buses but have seen their funding continue to sucked up by gasoline prices.

"I couldn't believe they could get away with this, to just take that money away," said Mark Munson, director of the Regional Transit Authority in Dubuque, which has been frequently forced to deny trips to the elderly and disabled because there are not enough buses and volunteers can't fill all the gaps.

Duvall is unapologetic, saying the traditional pork-barrel process of divvying up transportation dollars is bad policy. The proof, he said, is the fact that increased government spending on transportation has not slowed congestion.

If pricing is implemented, there should be a real plan to give people an alternative of real rapid transit. The New York plan is great because they have plenty of alternatives to get places in the pricing zone. Ryan discusses the need to do both as well. And Frank at Orphan Road warns us to be wary of going too far.

This is the reason why it really matters who becomes President next. Political appointments really have a huge push on policy and if we keep the same trajectory, we'll be stuck with these two guys for 4 more years.

And if you think there were a lot of innocent contractors on the death star, Ryan has some conspiracy theories for you as well. I'm not sure if they are that far from the truth given what has happened since Bush took office.


kenf said...

Something to keep in mind. Barack Obama lives a few blocks from a major transit stop. I don't know how ofter he uses it, buy I'm sure his friends and neighbors do.

Here is a piece from Salon about Barack and some of his Hyde Park, Chicago associates. Years ago I lived in Hyde Park

M1EK said...

Find somebody who voted for Nader in 2000, and punch them in the neck.

No difference indeed.