Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
DOT

Stimulus Package on Track to Perpetuate Transpo Status Quo

nyc_brt_1.jpgWill stimulus cash help implement New York's five BRT pilot routes? Image: Gotham Gazette.

A front page story in yesterday's Washington Post has the most thorough analysis to date of how infrastructure spending may be divvied up in an Obama stimulus package. Nothing is set in stone, but the dividing lines are increasingly clear: States and their DOTs are emphasizing road projects, while cities are looking for ways to reduce congestion. The emphasis on getting shovels in the ground quickly will also skew spending, says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak:

"The quickest things we can do may not be the ones that have the mostsignificant long-term impact on the green economy," he said. "Unless wepush a transit investment, this will end up being a stimulus packagethat rebalances our transportation strategy toward roads and away from[what] we need to get off our addiction to oil."

Mayors say there would be a better chance for a long-term impact ifthe money were focused on metropolitan areas where investments couldmake the most difference in reducing congestion and lesseningdependence on cars. They doubt that will happen if infrastructurefunding goes directly to state capitals.

As it stands, Congress, wanting to keep things simple, plans todisburse the money under existing formulas -- funding for roads andbridges will go to state governments, while money for public transitwill go to the local agencies that receive transit funding. 

Yes, there will be another window of opportunity to overhaul the existing formula and other bad habits with next year's big transportation bill. For now, however, the lack of vision is startling. As Smart Growth America's David Goldberg says in the Post, "It doesn't have the power to stir men's souls." Some signal that the nation is moving in a new direction is in order.

Even in New York, a land of mega-projects where the regional transit agency has immense needs, the MTA is asking for nothing more ambitious than station rehabs and accelerated track replacement.

So what would a visionary infrastructure stimulus for New York look like? How about physically separated, radial BRT lines connecting the outer boroughs to Manhattan (or at least implementing the BRT pilot plan that's been public for more than two years). Or an accelerated and expanded build-out of the protected bike path network. If there was ever a time to think big, now is the moment.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

What to Say When Someone Claims ‘No One Bikes or Walks in Bad Weather’

Yes, sustainable modes are more vulnerable to bad weather. But that's why we should invest more in them — not less.

April 19, 2024

NYC Transit’s New Operations Chief Wants To Fight ‘Ghost Buses’

One-time transit advocate and current MTA Paratransit VP Chris Pangilinan will oversee bus and subway operations for the whole city.

April 19, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Gimme Bus Shelter Edition

The days of the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewing every proposed bus shelter in landmarked districts may be no more. Plus more news.

April 19, 2024

Deal Reached: Hochul Says ‘Sammy’s Law’ Will Pass

The bill, though imperfect, has been four years in the making.

April 18, 2024

Komanoff: A ‘Noise Tax’ Can Ground NYC Helicopters

A proposed $400 “noise tax” on “nonessential” flights is a start — and it will work.

April 18, 2024
See all posts