Stimulus Funding for Public Transportation Takes the Concept of Paradox to a New Level

News stories out this week about the paradox (or irony–I always get confused) of stimulus funding for public transportation infrastructure projects, while local government budget shortfalls or short-sightedness is simultaneously leading to fare increases, service cuts, and job losses <http://t4america.org/transitcuts/>. Many local governments have obstinately refused to raise public support for operating costs of public transportation, even when such on-going funding is shown to be in the public interest. The way the stimulus money for public transportation is restricted <http://www.propublica.org/ion/stimulus/item/for-ailing-transit-systems-stimulus-windfall-is-a-mixed-blessing-621#11168>, it cannot be used for operating costs, even though that would help prevent job losses during the recession.

It’s doubly paradoxical (or ironic) because the recession has made demand for public transportation skyrocket <http://www.apta.com/media/releases/090615_ridership.cfm>. More and more of us are turning to public transportation in the recession and to avoid high gas prices. Yet as demand rises, nearly 9 out of 10 public transportation systems facing revenue shortfalls are cutting service, according the the American PUblic Transportation Association <http://www.apta.com/media/releases/090612_constraints.cfm>.  You can see a depressing and information map of this nationwide trend in the article “The United States of Transit Cuts” <http://t4america.org/transitcuts/> from the campaign Transportation for America <http://t4america.org>.

Transportation for America is probably the best place to get a crash course on transportation policy. The Campaign has a comprehensive set of policy papers <http://t4america.org/policy-papers/> on transportation policy and how it relates to other issues such as public health, economic development, small towns, climate, and social justice. Use the link to go straight to the “Transportation and Social Equity” PDF policy brief <http://t4america.org/policybriefs/t4_policybrief_equity.pdf>.

Related items:
The Economist analyzes the new transportation bill and American politics <http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13871995>.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine shows that the single biggest factor influencing physical activity around the world is…sidewalks <http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=71384>.

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