Even as Gas Prices Fall, More People Are Turning to Transit

From Streetsblog Network member Mobilizing the Region, the blog of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, come some numbers that members of Congress should look at closely as they consider transit funding in the stimulus package:

It seems that even as gasoline prices are starting to come down, the economic recession is suppressing driving.  Vehicle miles traveled typically fall with the GDP, but what differs this time around is that transit ridership is not suffering — and, in fact, is even growing in most places.  An American Public Transportation Association official told MTR that as Americans
shifted to transit to save on gas, they “discovered” the benefits and convenience of transit.  Significant unemployment could dampen the growth in transit ridership in coming months, but for now Americans are still piling onto buses and trains.

driving_us_11.jpgDriving fell throughout the U.S. in November 2008.

Good facts to know when you make your calls to Congress in support of Rep. Jerry Nadler’s amendment to the stimulus.

Also today around the network: Ryan Avent on The Bellows writes about how falling prices for raw materials and the slump in home and commercial construction make this an ideal time to invest in infrastructure:

[T]he bottom
line is this: when the economy recovers, resources will again approach
full utilization. And when that happens, governments will have to pay
more to build needed projects, and government investment will crowd out
some private investment. Fiscal stimulus skeptics focus their ire on
the potential for government waste in spending, and that potential is
there. A full accounting would also consider the opportunity cost of
failing to invest now while costs are low and there’s plenty of slack
in the system. There’s a very good case that the best way to save
taxpayer money over the long-term is to build as much infrastructure as
possible right now.

Plus: Bike PGH reports on the mayor of Pittsburgh’s call for more bike racks, and Making Places reports on the first meeting of the DIYcity group, which is aimed at making cities more user-friendly through Web 2.0 technology.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Randal O’Toole: Taking Liberties With the Facts

|
The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole gets under the skin of many of those interested in building a more rational and green metropolitan geography, but in many ways he’s an ideal opponent. It would be difficult to concoct more transparently foolish arguments than his. The man is an engine of self-parody. Is this spaghetti bowl turning […]

The Imminent Irrelevance of Randal O’Toole

|
Two things were clear at this morning’s hearing of the Senate Banking Committee concerning green investments in public transportation. First, transportation experts and leading legislators are very much in agreement on how transportation spending should change. And second, Randal O’Toole’s days as anything other than an anachronism are numbered. Cato Institute fellow Randal O’Toole testified […]

National Transit Union Proposes a Smart Fuel Subsidy

|
Tired of hearing about gas tax holidays, bridge toll suspensions, and rebates for drivers? Here’s a policy proposal that will actually improve commutes, not just encourage trips by car: subsidizing fuel for transit systems. As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, rising diesel prices are hitting transit agencies hard (preview only), leading to […]