Some members of the House Transportation Committee are not happy with Obama’s stimulus proposal, and may work to change the transportation portion. Here’s the Wall Street Journal:

“Some members of the House transportation committee objected to the proposed level of investment during a Democratic caucus session Thursday, and several members later spoke out during a committee meeting. Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) suggested the committee draft a letter or resolution to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting to the transport section of the stimulus bill.

“Rep. Oberstar suggested the committee “mobilize those practitioners of infrastructure” at a hearing next week to demonstrate the need to increase spending levels on shovel-ready projects. “Then I think we make the move on the House leadership and the incoming Obama administration,” he said.“

So we may not have seen the final version of the stimulus yet.
Via Transport Politic.

5 Replies to “House Transpo Committee Dissenters on Stimulus”

  1. To be technical, we haven’t seen anything like the final version. Still has to go through house committee. Then the house. At the same time, has to go through senate committee with likely a different draft, then the senate. Then a process to resolve the differences between the senate and house bills. Then another vote in each chamber. In the mean time, media and special interest scrutiny.

    So yes, very fluid. Hopefully the changes will be encouraging.

  2. DeFazio is doing more than I thought he’d do, so I think it’s time to strike hard — we should set up an e-mail campaign and forward the campaign to TOW, Streetsblog, T4A and such and propose a better investment in transit:
    1) Increase transit’s share or the amount it receives through stimulus
    a) $10bn becomes $25bn+
    b) Extend criteria in agreement with Oberstar’s proposal

    2) Set forward a change in the cost-effectiveness equation and create special exceptions for funding (ability to substitute density as basis for New Starts, for example, cost-effectiveness is based on a project’s served density; for example, a line that has an average density of 6,000/ppsm would be high, 5,000/ppsm would be medium high and 3,500/ppsm to 5,000psm would be medium, else substitute previous equation)

    3) Allow funding toward accelerating engineering and planning aspects of a project, allowing for partial or low-end funding for feasability studies, full funding in areas where proposals have been approved but engineering has not advanced to the shovel-ready stage

    4) After stimulus, work on UMTA2, a $75bn+ program with grants in $1-5bn blocks. That’s 250 miles of premium light rail in Seattle, many many more if you figure in the diminished costs in other cities.

    Cost-effectiveness changes would untangle some projects and get modern streetcar programs off the ground, engineering funding would allow quite a few programs to get into shovel-ready state a lot faster, and UMTA2 would clean up and streamline our nation’s economic engines: the cities.

    This could be sent to Dems and Reps at the same time.

    Striking, iron heat, etc.

  3. “2) Set forward a change in the cost-effectiveness equation and create special exceptions for funding (ability to substitute density as basis for New Starts, for example, cost-effectiveness is based on a project’s served density; for example, a line that has an average density of 6,000/ppsm would be high, 5,000/ppsm would be medium high and 3,500/ppsm to 5,000psm would be medium, else substitute previous equation)”

    I see the point you’re trying to make, but I think it would make more sense to relate the level of investment for determining cost-effectiveness to projected patronage, specifically likely transit traffic density…that is, daily or annual passenger miles per route mile. The Feds should agree to fund up to a given level of I’d say no more than 80% of $6,000 per daily passenger mile. Thus if Los Angeles, New York (or Seattle) comes up with a project that costs $300 million per mile, then it better get at least 50,000 dpm/rm or better. If it only got 30,000 dpm/rm, then they’d fund only 80% of $180 million per mile, regardless of the excess. This would be a very strong incentive to get maximum patronage.

    The reason I advocate this sort of approach is that population density is not necessarily directly related to patronage–a direct measure of transit patronage is much better. See http://www.publictransit.us/ptlibrary/specialreports/sr2.trafficdensityretrospective.htm for a detailed discussion of this issue.

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