I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about what’s wrong with the stimulus package and it’s really easy to critisize a bill that tries really hard to please everyone. But looking at the stimulus from a different perspective, in 2007, the Federal Government spent $2,730 billion (more was spent in 2008), of which $8.875 billion when to the FTA and was spent on transit. So about 1/3 of one percent of the total budget went to transit. With this stimulus package, $825 billion (or $550 billion if you think tax credits aren’t spending) will be spent in total, and $9 billion will go to transit. That’s nearly 1.1%. So compared to most government spending, this stimulus is very transit heavy. And $2.1 billion for New Starts is about 50% more than a typical year’s worth of spending.
Still, even conservatives agree that tax cuts are crappy stimulus and the stimulus will not keep cities from cutting service or raising fares. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has authored an amendment to the bill to authorize more funding for transit, so it’s not too late to email your congressional delegation and tell them you want to see more transit in the final draft of the stimulus bill. Especially Patty Murray, who’s in the Senate commitee looking at the bill right now.
A couple of videos below the fold.
Here’s President Obama’s weekly address:
Finally, we will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century. That means repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans.
I believe this is misleading. The stimulus doesn’t come close to creating millions of new transit riders, especially at a time when service cuts means fewer transit options for tens of millions of Americans. But I guess if you run a bus through a city with a million people, you’ve added an option even if only a few thousand ride it.
Here’s the Rachel Maddow show where Rep Peter DeFazio (D-OR) calls out Larry Summers as the reason for the low level of transit funding.