Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Merry Peters! Houston Edition

Instead of Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday, It's Merry Peters! In this edition, Houston was really excited to have her come down this morning to give a major speech. My assumption as perhaps was others is that she was going to fund the two light rail lines now in preliminary engineering or perhaps move them to final design. From the Houston Chronicle two days ago:

"We wouldn't be coming there to announce bad news," said the spokeswoman, declining to elaborate.

The site of Peters' announcement will be the northern end of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Red Line light rail tracks. Metro's planned North Line would link to them and continue to Northline Mall. Metro is seeking federal funding for half the cost of the North Line and the planned Southeast Line, which would cross the Red Line at Main and continue through southeast Houston to Palm Center.

Metro also wants federal funding for an Intermodal Terminal just north of UH-Downtown where buses, light rail and commuter rail trains would converge. Metro spokeswoman Raequel Roberts said she she does not know what Peters will announce.

Well those hopes were unfounded as Secretary Peters came to hock her hopes for a privatization heavy transportation policy. Touting her metro mobility program, she stated that new systems like Houston's Light Rail could be funded through her new program. But with the funds somewhat open ended, many feel like its a back door gift for road builders and could be a blow to the livability movement in regions where DOTs are basically highway departments.

But yet again she doesn't tell the truth about what is really happening in Washington, with the DOT trying to steal from the transit fund to pay for roads and last year trying to allow HOT lanes to be funded by the New Starts transit program. Here's her most recent tall tale:
"The bottom line is that our current approach to transportation discourages, actively discourages instead of encourages the type of innovative approaches to financing and building like the north transit corridor that Houston needs to keep its residents moving," said Peters earlier today.
The current approach to transportation is YOUR approach Ms Peters. You're in control of how things work, yet you keep pushing towards faux BRT and more privately funded roads. You wanted to make it harder to build beneficial rail projects because you don't understand the benefits to cities. The benefits to people, not cars. Don't give us this crap about who discourages innovative transport when its you. You're in the way. Portland is looking at innovative ways to fund the east side streetcar with developers but you won't allow it to complete the process.

Forbes actually described it correctly with their headline. "Bush administration pushing new roads." It has a money quote from the Secretary as well that shows her true intentions, as she mentioned earlier this year. Bikes and alternative transport are not transportation:
"Under our approach, communities will no longer have to slice and dice every federal dollar to qualify for niche programs that do little to improve their communities or commutes," Peters said. "Instead, projects that make sense for commuters get funded, while projects designed only to help politicians won't."
Niche programs like the New Starts Program? Niche Program like safe routes to school? How about programs that promote cycling? The problem with this is the sole focus on the commute. Improving communities does not mean speeding up traffic on roads or creating new concrete for cars that are the main part of our national energy addiction. I'm so tired of this BS. Just say what you really mean Mary. Tell us how you really feel. You and your friends hate cities. Speeding up the commute is just code for building freeways through them. I can't wait for November.


Dave Reid said...

The good news is that she will be looking for work early next year!

kenf said...

If we are real lucky, no one will hire her.

AJ said...

You ought to interview Mayor-Elect Adams about her.

I think the results would be comedy gold, since he's pretty blunt about stuff.

Robert said...

Though typically not in favor of Bush's "Market Based Solutions" to societal problems such as school funding and absent health insurance, proposals to toll roads may promise increases to transit ridership. If you make the cost of driving more expensive, you can move people off freeways and on to transit.

The bottom line is that in most places, taking the bus sucks. Unless you're on rail or a nice express bus, it takes three times as long and is much less comfortable than sitting in a car. For example, I am more price sensitive, so I take the bus.

Alas, I am very concerned that under no administration in this country will ever help the car-bound onto the lousy excuse for transit that we have here. The only reason that Europe has people riding transit is the high price of driving and the quality of transit; the only reason the price of driving and the quality of transit are high is that European leaders taxed the hell out of gas before the continent had the opportunity to become car-dependent.

Anyway, toll roads are a step.