Diverse, green transportation can rev up economy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From a story in The Capital Times:

Could a 21st Century transportation system save our national economy?

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and several environmental groups say it could.

They released a five-point plan from the Transportation for America Campaign on Wednesday that was touted as a way to create more than 6 million good, green jobs nationally while reducing dependence on oil.

"We need to look to the future" and get on the right track, the mayor said during a news conference at the old train depot on West Washington Avenue.

Ed Huck, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, added, "No business is going to locate in a state that doesn't provide a diversity of transportation options."

The report calls for investment in public transit; high-speed and intercity rail; neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, more walkable and more affordable; and restoration of the thousands of roads and bridges in failing condition across the United States.

"Families living in neighborhoods adjacent to rail transit spend just 9 percent of their household budget on transportation as compared to 25 percent for those in automobile dependent areas," the report said. "A person can achieve an average savings of $9,499 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving."

Specifically, the report suggests:

+ Modernizing and expanding rail and transit networks by connecting the metro regions that are engines of the modern economy to be able to catch up to and pass competitors in China and Europe
+ Investing in cleaner vehicles and new fuels
+ Fixing crumbling highways, bridges and transit systems, instead of concentrating on new roads
+ Re-evaluating projects currently in the pipeline to eliminate those with little economic return
+ Providing affordable and efficient travel and housing options and asking private real estate developers which would benefit from new rail stations and transit lines to contribute toward that service.
For more about the national campaign, go to Transportation for America.