Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When "Striking a Balance" Means "Fund Less"

Peter Rogoff, the possible new FTA administrator, was on Capitol Hill getting grilled by Senators. However I have a slight problem with what he had to say on the topic of funding. It seems as if he's operating still under the 20th century mindset of autos over transit in saying that we need to balance building new projects with repairing our existing assets. This assumes that capital transit funding will continue along its same path and is not acceptable.

"Some of these deferred maintenance issues quickly become safety issues," Rogoff warned. He urged the senators to strike a balance between funding new public transit projects -- for which "it's a lot easier to garner enthusiasm" -- and repairing the already broken systems in major cities.

I agree that we need to fix what we have, but we should be expanding rapid transit at a greater clip. "Striking a balance" to me means fund less. It's already hard enough to fund new transit and there's a huge backlog to the tune of $250 billion, possibly more. What we should be doing is be striking a better ballance between highway and alternative transportation funding, such as Congressman Oberstar is advocating with modal parity.


John said...

Even modal parity won't help unless the total amount of funding increases. If the total funding level stays the same, then modal parity just means the federal government spending more on each individual projects, which means fewer projects can get constructed.

Anonymous said...

Well we have thank people like O'Toole, Cox and the rest of the highway lobby for the current mess.

Winston said...

What evidence do you have that, at least in the Bay Area funding for roads and transit are out of balance in favor of roads? Currently the bay area spends more than 2/3 of its transportation money on transit which carries less than 10% of total trips. Do you REALLY want a balance? Because if so then you would see a lot more road construction and a lot less transit.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Winston the Bay Area is an exception. As much as I have been writing on local issues because I live here, this is a national focused blog and when i'm talking about balance, I'm talking about it on the federal level. Right now it's 80 20 in favor of roads.

And don't give me that BS of total trips. That's a measure created by anti transit folks at the regional level, much of which is not adequately served by good transit, and does nothing to discuss the effectiveness of transit during peak times and special events. New roads are expanded because of peak hours, and I'd rather that capacity be new transit instead of more concrete.