The question of funding for mass transit (inadequate!) and high-speed passenger rail (encouraging!) in the stimulus bill attracted a lot of attention. The more important issue, however, is whether or not we can get some structural reforms put into the overarching federal transportation bill as we move forward with the reauthorization process.
To that end, Transportation For America yesterday released its recommendations in a document “The Route to Reform.” You can download the full report here or else just check out the 12 page executive summary document I read yesterday here. It hits, I think, all the key priorities — shifting from a transportation law that serves the interests of highway builders to one that serves the interests of people. That means meeting environmental sustainability and public health/safety goals in part by shifting traffic that doesn’t need to be on roads onto other, more suitable, modalities. That means everything from freight rail to walking and bicycling on “complete streets” to mass transit and intercity passenger rail. Meanwhile, rather than endlessly building new roads, we can invest money in properly maintaining the roads and bridges we already have. The upshot will be a transportation network that’s more economically efficient and more sustainable than the current one, driven by pork barreling and special interest politics.