Public Transportation, Walkable-Community Development Bill Introduced into U.S. House of Representatives

San Diego light rail photo

photo by paulkimo9 via flickr

Although it's being pitched as being a bill for the relief of high gas prices, a new bill introduced into Congress could bring greater environmental benefits than its title might suggest.

The Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008 (HR 6495) has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the bill is cosponsored by Chris Shays (R-CT), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Hilda Solis (D-CA).
A wide range of transit and urban planning benefits
Funds allocated by this bill would go towards:

1) Expanding public transportation and to help transit agencies deal with high fuel prices.

2) Encourage auto insurance policies that reward low mileage drivers with lower insurance premiums.

3) Providing incentives to employers and employees to take mass transit, carpool, walk or telecommute to work.

4) Helping local governments create walkable, bike-able communities, well-served by public transit by funding local support programs for transportation demand management and for transit agencies to make need investments.

5) Educating people about transportation and housing options.

6) Increasing the availability of "Location Efficient Mortgages" so that owning a home near public transit is more affordable.

7) Helping the Federal Government to lead by example by upgrading websites to that people can access government services without leaving their homes.

Saving money through reduced energy consumption
According to Michael Replogle of Environmental Defense, "This bill would support current transportation options while encouraging the creation of new and necessary transit alternatives. It would ultimately benefit all Americans by saving them gas money, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, alleviating traffic, and reducing pollution."

That's a good assessment of what this bill potentially can offer. Though we'll have to wait to see whether the details of the bill get watered down in the debate process, in theory this is very positive development for the expansion of public transportation options in the United States and the rebuilding of civic infrastructures that allow for reduction of personal energy demand and reduce individuals' eco-footprints.

Read the full text of the Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008.

via :: Environmental Defense
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