Saturday, February 4, 2012

Congress' War on Public Transportation; Dumb Growth for a Dumb Congress

One of those situations where you just want to sputter... Where the Champions of Dumb Growth are waging war on the Champions of Smart Growth.  Arlington has been the beneficiary of decades of good urban planning by its government.  Decades ago, not only did Arlington support the new subways system, it decided to be the only WDC suburb that would finance and acquire multiple subway stations walking distance from one another.  It was a gutsy, brilliant and expensive decision.

It worked. It took decades of foresight and growth, and that decision became Arlington's highly successful urban-style walking community, with a high population density, great stores and restaurants, and new businesses, offices and schools.  Decades of Arlington smart growth government planning, with its foundation in the public transportation system, led to highly successful community with property values growing and businesses booming.  It has led to fewer cars, people living closer to work, people getting to work faster, and healthier lifestyles.

Arlington chose wisely.  Congress wants to choose poorly - by defunding public transportation.

This is dumb.  This a dumb decision by a dumb growth congress that cannot get its head around the fact that suburban sprawl, cas-guzzling car dependent, neighborhoods, are just no longer viable.  Guaranteed funding for public transportation, taken from the gas tax, builds better and healthier communities, and helps get us off our dependency on foreign oil. 

This is what Arlington had to say....

Arlington Sees Threat to Metro in U.S. House Transportation Bill
  • House moves to end guaranteed mass- transit funding
  • Legislation would de-link federal transit investments from dedicated funding stream
ARLINGTON, Va. – A vote by the House Ways and Means committee to end guaranteed transit funding poses a threat to Metro, a key component of Arlington County’s transit system, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes said today.
The House measure would de-link federal transit investments from a dedicating funding stream for the first time in decades, by ending the policy of devoting 2.86 cents of the 18.4-cent gasoline tax paid by U.S. motorists to public transportation.
“Arlington relies on transit,” Hynes said. “Our whole region relies on transit to move hundreds of thousands of people off our already clogged roads. The gasoline tax supports Metro, the backbone of mass transit in our County and the region. If the House proposal were to become law, it would make budgeting and capital funding for Metro, and for transit systems across our nation, nearly impossible.” 
For nearly 30 years, the guaranteed fuel-tax revenue has supplied crucial funding for building light-rail, bus and metro systems – alternatives to driving that are experiencing record ridership across the nation. The Committee’s proposal would remove the guaranteed funding, replacing it with a one-time sum taken from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund for a new “alternative transportation account” that could lack crucial, committed, on-going funding.
Federal transit funding currently accounts for 20 percent of overall federal transportation funding. In the current fiscal year, WMATA received $150 million in dedicated federal funds. With the federal annual formula allocations, grant funding for Metro’s FY12 capital program will approach $400 million, more than half the total budget for the Capital Improvement Program. Federal funds also are used to support operational security enhancements.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee is responsible for setting the revenue levels for the five-year highway and transit bill being considered by the House. Before any of the provisions of the $260 billion bill can take effect, it must be reconciled with a Senate committee’s $109 billion two-year bill. More than 500 organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Society of Civil Engineers, The American Public Transportation System and many others, have signed a letter opposing the elimination of guaranteed fuel-tax revenue for transit funding.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.

Photo by Chriswatkins

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