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- February 19, 2010BY BEN LOWE
Public transportation gets millions of Americans to and from their jobs every day. Transportation for America, a national public-transit and smart-growth advocacy organization, thinks investing in our transportation sector can create jobs as well. In response to the jobs bill now working its way through the Senate, which would largely offer tax cuts to small businesses, T4A has proposed instead that funding be put toward projects such as:
- $16 billion for transit
- $8.1 billion for the Surface Transportation Program (highways)
- $9.8 billion for competitive grants, such as TIGER grants
- $1.5 billion for bike and pedestrian facilities to make walking and biking safer and more attractive.
The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute agrees that the T4A plan would be effective. EPI has stated that such projects would spur significant job creation, particularly among the economically disadvantaged and those without higher education.
As Bay Area transit-and-smart-growth advocate TransForm recently reported, areas well-served by good transportation options, specifically public transit, help to significantly reduce transportation costs for their residents. If funding is used wisely, a transportation-focused jobs bill could therefore create and save jobs while repairing crumbling infrastructure and keeping money out of gas tanks and in our local economy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reportedly working on a range of jobs-stimulus legislation, and may yet see the connection between getting the job market moving, and getting Americans where they want to go on America’s sidewalks, bike paths, and roads.
- November 21, 2009BY BEN LOWE
Study after study has shown that cities prioritize development that lets visitors and residents walk, bicycle, or take public transit to get around, people are healthier and have far less negative impact on the environment. Now, a new study by TransForm entitled Windfall for All demonstrates another benefit to developing livable communities: people who do not use cars to get around spend far less money on transportation than people who do. Citing AAA estimates, the report shows that, on average, it costs $8,097 per year to own, maintain, register, insure, and fuel a vehicle. In all, individuals in the Bay Area spend $34 billion on private transportation, most of which on owning and operating cars.
Especially in current tough economic conditions, finding ways to cut costs is critical, and that includes money spent on transportation. Yet many Bay Area towns and cities have prioritized development that not only encourages auto use, but precludes other ways to travel. As the study asserts, people can only move away from expensive auto use toward more affordable transportation means if cities give them the means to do so by putting housing near transit, ensuring pedestrians and bicyclists can get around safely, and investing in pleasant places that are nicer to be in than to drive past.
- June 16, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
The UK Guardian recently reported from beleaguered Flint, Mich., on a new plan to shrink the city by actually bulldozing unused buildings and neighborhoods. The idea is to concentrate the dwindling population and city services into a smaller area, or as Detroit has envisioned, many smaller urban centers separated by "forests and meadows". This proposal is apparently attracting the attention of the Obama administration. Is this is a budget-wise coping strategy, a plan for recovery, or the anti-sprawl movement's version of urban renewal?