Rural areas benefit from urban mass transit

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An editorial from The Tomah Journal:

Mass transit -- it isn’t just an urban issue anymore.

Traditionally, mass transit has been considered an urban concern, or worse, an issue that pits urban interests against rural interests. That idea is wrong. Mass transit benefits anyone who uses energy, and the longer America delays its commitment to urban mass transit, the more severe our rapidly escalating energy crisis becomes.

Why is urban mass transit a rural issue? Because urban commuters consume gasoline needed by rural consumers. In smaller communities like Tomah, where mass transit isn’t economically viable, citizens have no choice but to commute by automobile. Every gallon of gas that’s guzzled by a long, solitary urban commute is a gallon of gas that isn’t available for drivers in Tomah. Reduced urban consumption means lower prices for rural consumers.

It makes sense not only for rural lawmakers to support urban mass transit, but to also support the funding choices that encourage its growth. It means spending less money on expanding urban freeways and shifting those dollars to buses, railroads, subways and light rail (the latter two use electricity instead of gasoline).