I was heartened to see that the Obama public transportation group was still active. Inspired by your remarks below I sent the following email (in red) to my US House Representative - The Honorable Jim Gerlach (Republican - voted against the TARP)
I appreciate your past support of public transportation and your concern about the TARP spending. Now I understand that Congress will vote on an economic recovery package that bows to the highway lobby by allocating 75% of transportation funding to build NEW roads. Please reconsider that allocation. Use transit expenditures to repair our roads and bridges and then use the rest to upgrade public transit. As our population ages we will become more dependent on Public transportation. We do not really want to compete with the Trucks on the highway. The population of the USA has more than doubled since I first learned to drive and the Auto is much less of a convenience. Parking lots mar our landscape. Runoff from roadways pollutes our Rivers and Streams. Our rural areas are covered with asphalt hills from expended roads.
I lived in Germany for 6 months and never needed an Auto. The city was much nicer without them. Less noise and congestion in the city center. There were small shops where I could pick up whatever groceries I needed when I stepped off the subway to walk to my apartment. Here in the USA we are forced to incur the dangers and expense of owning a car.
Please - We need a change of direction in our development of transportation
I will let you know if Gerlach responds
From: Sean Hedgpeth [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 6:57 PM
To: Public Transportation Users for Obama!
Subject: [PublicTransportationUsersforObama] Fwd: CALPIRG: Billions For Highways?
Only takes a second to send something, this is outrageous, we could build light rail and HSR all day with these funds, instead they are going to build suburban interchanges and new highways through national parks. Send this to your friends!
This week, Congress is set to vote on an economic recovery package. It has the potential to breathe new life into our country's broken public transportation systems.
Yet, shockingly, the current proposal only allocates 25% of its transportation funding to transit projects, while 75% goes into building roads.
We can't let this happen. Speaker Pelosi's input is critical, and she needs to hear from Californians. Tell Speaker Pelosi to allocate more funding to public transportation.
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the direction of this country, and invest in long-term solutions to the pollution, oil dependency and traffic problems caused by our drive-your-car-or-stay-at-home system.
Our own Transportation Associate Erin Steva put it well in a recent op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune:
"Federal transportation money should be spent only on projects that advance long-term national goals, by reducing our dependence on oil, curbing global warming pollution, alleviating congestion, improving safety, and supporting healthy, sustainable communities. To reach these goals, emphasis should be placed on expanding light rail, commuter rail, rapid bus service, high-speed intercity rail and other forms of modern public transportation. At least as much money should be allocated to these transportation modes as to roads and highways."
Public transportation not only reduces our addiction to oil -- and the harmful global warming pollution that addiction produces -- transit projects also create more jobs and reduce more traffic than the road-building alternative.
In fact, we know that every dollar invested in transit projects creates 20% more jobs than money spent on road-building.
We already moving on the right track. More than 2.8 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2008 -- an increase of 6.5 percent over the third quarter of 2007. California voters approved local ballot measures for transit such as Measure R in Los Angeles County, and statewide ballot measures, such as Prop 1A for high-speed rail. Those projects depend on funding from Congress to match California's commitment to improving transit.
The Economic Recovery Package presents an opportunity to make significant progress in building a better transportation future. Increasing funding for public transportation would benefit California greatly, but Speaker Pelosi is under a lot of pressure to allocate funding to roads instead.
She is hearing from road builders and other powerful developers. Now she needs to hear from you:
P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.