Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

New Investigation Finds 2,100 Transport Lobbyists Working the System

Interest groups seeking to influence transportation policy-making have long flooded the capital with campaign cash and lobbyists -- and their numbers are rising at an eye-popping rate. Nearly 1,800 interests are employing at least 2,100 transportation lobbyists to work the system in anticipation of the next federal infrastructure bill, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation unveiled today.

6a00e5538696cf883401156fccf6d2970c_320wi.jpgPhoto: Pufferfish

The Center's work directly answers a question asked by many attendees at last week's University of Virginia infrastructure conference: How can the public be awakened to the relevance and political importance of transportation as an issue?

Unfortunately for the elite industry players who attended the conference, the answer may be that the public isn't yet aware of just how much waste is built into state and federal transportation spending. From the Center's initial report:

The matter of how and from where the federal money is actually doledout is among the biggest headaches. The majority of federal dollars forthese various transportation programs actually get distributed to stateand local governments to be spent at their discretion. But that hascaused problems.

For one thing, wrote

the Government Accountability Office last year, “Rigorous economicanalysis does not generally drive the investment decisions of state andlocal governments.” That was an understatement. Most statetransportation agencies surveyed by the GAO in 2004 — 34 out of 43 —called political support and public opinion “very important” wheninvesting federal dollars. Only eight states attributed the sameimportance to cost-benefit analyses.

With the debate in Congress currently focused not on how to reform the bloated, broken system but how long to delay reform, it's unclear whether the Center's findings can move the needle in the short term.

But that all-but-certain postponement of the next federal transportation bill makes today's report all the more shocking. Anyone who reads it will find no reason to support 12 or 18 more months of federal transportation funding distributed through an unaccountable system of state DOTs.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Wednesday’s Headlines: Citi Bike By the Numbers Edition

Haters of Citi Bike are really going to detest the new website. Plus other news.

July 17, 2024

Once Again, There is More Evidence that Safer Streets Help Local Business

...and there's more insight into why people simply don't believe it.

July 17, 2024

Bedford Ave. Protected Bike Lane Would Benefit Residents, Businesses: Data

A new report debunks the common myth that street safety projects aren't built for the benefit of people who live in a given neighborhood.

July 16, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: Rajkumar’s Citywide Bid Edition

The potential candidate for city comptroller cares more about "quality of life" than transportation, she says. Plus more news.

July 16, 2024

Report: The 3 Deadliest Districts for Pedestrians are Represented by Republicans

According to Smart Growth America, Suffolk County and the southwestern part of Nassau County are the worst places to be a pedestrian in the state.

July 16, 2024
See all posts