Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Really Needs a Bailout

You've heard of the auto bailout, the bank bailout, the second auto bailout, the second bank bailout, the third auto bailout...bailout has now become a joke. Yet I want to talk about a group that really needs a bailout.

Local governments and transportation agencies

Recently, PBS did a special entitled Blueprint for America. The special points out that ridership for many major transit agencies is at levels not seen since the 1950s, when many big-city streetcar systems were in place. Even though ridership has increased, it is still not enough to keep agencies from being reliant on subsidy money, especially for new construction. Subsidies are largely based on gas and sales tax revenues, which have been down due to the recession and falling oil prices, and overall government spending, which has been cut in states that have balanced budget amendments (stupid) and 2/3 majorities (stupider). The federal government should swoop down and pick up most of the tab, probably now somewhere in the billions of dollars, to stop the rate cuts and fare increases and allow them to build much-need light rail and subway expansions. And I know that Republicans will kick and scream, but this is necessary for the good of the country...the bailouts for the bank industry and the auto industry benefited primarily shareholders and executives, who generally are more wealthy than the average American. A transportation bailout would benefit all Americans by continuing service to people without. So stop worrying about AIG and Wachovia and start worrying about the transit problems faced by ordinary, downtrodden working-class Americans. Plus, according to Gavin Newsome in the interview, a strong transit system. And I agree with him, citing what the Gold Line has done to Pasadena and what's gone down in Charlotte. And that's this week's blogpost.

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