Republican Party goes after bikes, trains, transit, everything but their beloved cars

miss blacktop
Public Domain Wisconsin Historical society

TreeHugger founder Graham would say “we are not red or blue, we’re green.” But it’s hard sometimes, when the things we love (like national parks and monuments) are under attack as they are in the Republican platform. Now Grist points out that they don’t much like bikes, pedestrians or transit either.

ReaganReagan signing STAA, which gave gas tax money to transit/Public Domain

They particularly don’t like the provisions of Ronald Reagan’s 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act, that directed funds toward mass transit. Today, the party of Reagan wants to reverse this:

We propose to remove from the Highway Trust Fund programs that should not be the business of the federal government. More than a quarter of the Fund’s spending is diverted from its original purpose. One fifth of its funds are spent on mass transit, an inherently local affair that serves only a small portion of the population, concentrated in six big cities.

Now one could point out that a lot of people live in those six big cities, and that driving is mostly as local as transit.

Additional funds are used for bike-share programs, sidewalks, recreational trails, landscaping, and historical renovations. Other beneficiaries of highway money are ferry boats, the federal lands access program, scenic byways, and education initiatives. These worthwhile enterprises should be funded through other sources.

One could also point out that sidewalks help keep people out of roads, that ferries carry cars, and that cars drive on scenic byways. And don’t even think about slowing down highway construction for environmental studies:

We propose to phase out the federal transit program and reform provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act which can delay and drive up costs for transportation projects.

And don’t even think about alternatives to driving like Amtrak or high speed rail, and ignore the subsidy that is given to every driver of every car because the gas tax has not been increased in decades.

Amtrak is an extremely expensive railroad for the American taxpayers, who must subsidize every ticket. The federal government should allow private ventures to provide passenger service in the northeast corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country. We reaffirm our intention to end federal support for boondoggles like California’s high-speed train to nowhere.

But fortunately none of this will be necessary because Uber:

We want government to encourage the sharing economy and on-demand platforms to compete in an open market, and we believe public policies should encourage the innovation and competition that are essential for an Internet of Things to thrive.

This has nothing to do with Donald Trump; this is the platform of the Republican Party which controls both houses of Congress and most of the state houses, and likely still will after the election.

The Republicans claim that the current administration “subordinates civil engineering to social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” But I suspect that any civil engineer would agree that we need a mix of transportation modes, and that in most cases, the car is the least efficient and most expensive of them. I think it can also be noted that it has always been social engineering that has driven civil engineering, including Eisenhower’s interstate highway system that they so admire. They just prefer their kind of social engineering. And they forget to mention that it is the most subsidized and socialist form of transportation that one can possibly imagine; as James Schwartz wrote,

ladaRetronaut/ socialist cars/via

From subsidies given to oil companies to produce cheap oil, to government bailouts/ownership of auto manufacturers, to road construction and maintenance on streets that cost nothing to use, to highly subsidized parking spaces, to government health care costs associated with pollution from automobiles, to the detrimental health that results from sedentary lifestyle that cars promote, to the vast government policing forces required to enforce our streets: it is undeniable that driving places enormous costs on our society, and this cost is highly subsidized by our government.

If Republicans don't like subsidies then really, they should get rid of their cars.

Republican Party goes after bikes, trains, transit, everything but their beloved cars
Sidewalks? Where we're going we don't need no sidewalks.

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