In the USA, 80% of the federal government's transportation budget is spent on roads. In Seattle, where the once thriving streetcar system was paved over, the current transit system is mediocre. "It's the single biggest problem we face," said Steve Nicholas, the city's director of sustainability. "We can implement all these punitive measures to discourage people from driving to work, but unless we offer them reasonable alternatives to get there, it's not going to work" ::Globe and Mail
In Ontario, Canada, the provincial government has realized that if it is going to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and close its coal fired power plants, it has to get cars off the road and ensure that the ones remaining are more efficient. It has just promised a whopping 17 billion dollars for transit, and is funding the entire Toronto streetcar plan, formerly an unfunded pie in the sky. Premier McGuinty is shutting up the automakers by tossing them $650 million to invest in technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
Cities like Seattle and Toronto can't do it on their own, the higher levels of government have all the money and make the rules. As Toronto Mayor Miller said about McGuinty's new commitment to transit: "It's extraordinary.I can't think of any better news for Torontonians." ::Globe and Mail