Mass-Transit Gets Funded to the Tune of $75 Billion
November 4th was a good day for democracy in general (most of the voting went off without a hitch) and Democrats in particular. But lost in all the excitement over Barack Obama's historic victory was the fact that mass-transit was also one of the big winners of the day. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal
Some 23 initiatives were approved nationwide. . .that will inject $75 billion into transportation systems, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence, a nonpartisan research group that promotes mass-transit service. Among the winners: Nearly $10 billion in bonds to start building a high-speed rail network in California, and $18 billion to expand mass-transit service in the Seattle area. The vote on another measure, which would raise the sales tax in Santa Clara County, Calif., to fund an extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit service, remains too close to call.
These results sound even better when we look more closely at the numbers.The People Do What Congress Can't
While Congress has been busy bailing out the financial industry--and considering bailing out the auto industry--the American public, possibly in part due to the spike in gas prices (though they have been coming down steadily), has overwhelmingly supported mass-transit initiatives. Indeed, "70% of the major transportation-funding measures on ballots this year were approved, about double the rate at which initiatives are usually passed."
These new initiatives will create work and jobs for companies that manufacture and service parts for buses, trains, etc. The challenge now is to ensure that companies can keep up with the demand for new parts; that cities are able to raise the necessary funds to implement the projects; that fuel prices stay high enough to maintain high ridership; and that the economy improves (at present, even the MTA in New York City is running a massive budget deficit).
With a new administration focused on addressing climate change, and a nation that appears to be ready to (or is being forced) to change, due to economic, social and historic pressures, there's reason to believe we may finally begin moving away from an automobile-centric society, to one that is dominated by public transportation, walking, cycling, rollerblading, etc.