Too Much for Roads, Not Enough For Public Transit

The $825 billion economic stimulus package President Barack Obama is working out with the Congress has one major flaw: it includes too many funds for new roads and not enough for public transportation. Consider this: $32 billion is provided for new roads and only $10 billion for public transportation.

Karen Wayland, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, points out that Congress should use the stimulus package to the U.S. away from "highways and toward railways and mass transit." “The transportation component of the stimulus package underfunds mass transit in deference to highways and bridges.”

“It is particularly disappointing to see that, unlike highway funds, public transportation and passenger rail funds have been cut below the levels suggested by the House Transportation Committee, limiting job creation in these areas,” said Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth president. “Public transportation investments create 19 percent more jobs per dollar spent than investments in new highways.”

“There’s a lot of new asphalt-laying [in the bill],” head of the Safe Climate Campaign, Daniel Becker said, “and that will undercut a lot of the green efforts.”
Marchant Wentworth, Union of Concerned Scientists legislative representative, supports the overall stimulus package, pointing out that last year the Energy Department’s budget for renewable energy was only $4.1 billion.

“This is a massive, massive increase in [green] spending.”
However, Wentworth also pointed out that $10 billion for public transportation is not enough. “You could triple that and still have needs out there for relieving congestion.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman


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