Are New Transportation Spending Goals (Focused on Transit, of Course) Needed?

Recently re-elected City Councilor Isaac Benton is one of Albuquerque’s leading proponents of the deeply unpopular streetcar. Not surprisingly, his support for mass transit does not begin and end there. Recently, he wrote about the federal transportation bill and the “need” to direct more transportation money to alternatives to cars.

Of course, Benton omits the fact that 40 percent of highway user fees collected from drivers are diverted for uses other than roads and bridges. This despite the fact that transit accounts for only about 1.5 percent of Americans’ daily trips. Obviously, transit is already over-funded relative to its results. Oh, and taking a poll that says “a majority say they’d take public transportation if it were easily available where they live and work” doesn’t mean anything. I’ll take more of something if there is no tradeoff. But we live in a world of limited resources.

That’s why I believe that changes should be made to our transportation funding system. I’d rather see Washington get out of the transportation financing businesses and let the states take over as Gabriel Roth of Cato discusses here. If Oregon wants to build even more transit, that is their choice, but New Mexico and Montana shouldn’t be told what to do based on Congressional whim and funding formulas.