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Old 02-08-08, 04:40 PM   #1
randya
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Bush Admin. Wants to Rob Transit Fund to Pay for Highways

The administration wants to transfer billions of dollars from transit to highways:

It proposes to shore up the Highway Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) by “borrowing” $3.2 billion from the HTF’s Mass Transit Account. It would also cut national transit spending by more than $200 million from previously proposed levels.

What's going on here? I'll do my best to make it interesting.

The Highway Trust Fund has two components: By law, 18.2 percent is set aside for transit, and the rest for highways. Problem is, the highway people have been spending down their part of the fund at an unsustainable clip, and they are on pace to run out of cash around October. If that happens, they will have to stop jobs -- cutting off exactly the kind of big-ticket construction projects that legislators love.

"The people on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are going to scream bloody murder," says Burwell. "It's a violation of the spending structure established by ISTEA."

The most logical way to make up the shortfall, he believes, is to bump up the gas tax, but of course that's politically unpopular too. A more likely scenario will be a stop-gap measure like taking money from the general fund (which bumps up the federal deficit) or cracking down on gasoline wholesalers who cheat on gas tax payments (apparently this is a widely known problem that has gone largely unaddressed for some time).

In the not-too-distant future, more drastic measures will be necessary. The attempt to raid the Transit Fund is symptomatic of the same unsustainable financial situation that has caused the idea of privatizing highways to gain so much traction.

Burwell, an early champion of "context-sensitive" approaches to transportation projects, thinks privatization skirts the issue. "The solution is to figure out how to re-finance the Trust Fund and do it in a way that addresses public goals like reducing VMT and emissions."



more here
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Old 02-08-08, 04:59 PM   #2
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In constant dollars the gas tax has dropped 2/3 from what it originally was. Inflation..

Highways are heavily subsidised by everyone. Increasing the gas tax, among other things, puts the burden of paying for roads on the people using the roads.

There's about a dozen other benefits as well.
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Old 02-08-08, 10:06 PM   #3
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Unfortunately Bush is not working with us.


http://postcarboncities.net/node/1466

"Curbing emissions from cars depends on a three-legged stool: improved vehicle efficiency, cleaner fuels, and a reduction in driving," said lead author Reid Ewing, Research Professor at the National Center for Smart Growth, University of Maryland. "The research shows that one of the best ways to reduce vehicle travel is to build places where people can accomplish more with less driving."

http://postcarboncities.net/files/SG...18-07small.pdf

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/pdf/earlyrelease.pdf

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Old 02-08-08, 11:17 PM   #4
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In the not-too-distant future, more drastic measures will be necessary. The attempt to raid the Transit Fund is symptomatic of the same unsustainable financial situation that has caused the idea of privatizing highways to gain so much traction.

more here
The whole situation is insane. Maybe they should spend all the transit money so it can't be raided!

The bottom line is we need to start tolling roads and selling off the freeways to private investors who WILL toll them. The cost of building highways is skyrocketing and we can no longer afford them anymore. It's time we pass them onto private investors who will make money on the poor motorists while maintaining a multibillion dollar highway system.

What are we going to raid next to pay for our highways? Social Security? Medicare?
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Old 02-09-08, 08:24 AM   #5
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What are we going to raid next to pay for our highways? Social Security? Medicare?
We could only be so lucky as to get something even remotely useful out of money to be wasted on medicare, and SS.
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Old 02-09-08, 08:42 AM   #6
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Unfortunately the answer lies much deeper and this problem is just a symptom of debt based government spending.
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Old 02-09-08, 12:18 PM   #7
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How about next time there is a bridge collapse in Minnesota, instead of joining in on the "crumbling infrastructure" panic reaction, we just let the bridge remain collapsed. I think it would have great symbolic value.
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Old 02-09-08, 12:27 PM   #8
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What does one think he will do to the puny dollars set aside for alternative transportation. Like bike lanes. Gas goinng to four dollars a gallon and mass transit given the back burner. Crazy. But, then the asphalt lobby is far more powerful.
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Old 02-09-08, 02:21 PM   #9
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It looks like LAB might just have an issue to talk about at the National Summit.
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Old 02-09-08, 04:21 PM   #10
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In constant dollars the gas tax has dropped 2/3 from what it originally was. Inflation..

Highways are heavily subsidised by everyone. Increasing the gas tax, among other things, puts the burden of paying for roads on the people using the roads.

There's about a dozen other benefits as well.
Most people are too damned ignorant to understand the necessity of the gas tax. So they whine and make up numbers like $1 a gallon instead of reading it RIGHT ON THE PUMP.

They also don't realize: Gas is still cheap. Find me a cheaper source of mass energy.
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Old 02-09-08, 04:42 PM   #11
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gas only appears to be inexpensive because it is subsidized by the government with your tax dollars every step of the way, from the well to the refinery to the gas pump, and the harmful byproducts of it's combustion are dumped free of charge into the atmosphere / commons.
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Old 02-09-08, 09:02 PM   #12
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A lot of cites and states are going to have to come up the with money if Washington doesn't. Can you say TAXES!

The problem here is that road construction is a jobs works program and since we are headed into a recession, the government has to keep building to keep money flowing and employment up.
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Old 02-10-08, 12:47 AM   #13
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Limited access highways should all be toll roads
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Old 02-10-08, 07:46 AM   #14
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There has been discussions here about putting in toll lanes on our congested highways to help raise revenue for mass transit and more road expansion but that would only cause more congestion in the short run so they fight for first expand the highway then put in the toll lanes but once they start that they soon figure out no one will uses the toll lanes so they don't build toll lanes when there is no congestion and they don't build toll lanes when there is congestion. Heavy sigh.
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Old 02-10-08, 10:41 AM   #15
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tolls for all users should be charged at the entrances and exits, just like the NYS Thruway. Or just eliminate the toll booths and use electronic tolling devices like the Port Authority Bridges in NYC. The technology is available now.
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Old 02-10-08, 12:42 PM   #16
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There has been discussions here about putting in toll lanes on our congested highways to help raise revenue for mass transit and more road expansion but that would only cause more congestion in the short run so they fight for first expand the highway then put in the toll lanes but once they start that they soon figure out no one will uses the toll lanes so they don't build toll lanes when there is no congestion and they don't build toll lanes when there is congestion. Heavy sigh.
In our case in the tri-state area, tolls (bridge/tunnel crossings) used to help fund mass transit but now they are pretty much funding their own infrastructure, perpetuating congestion. The more funding, the better vehicle throughput, better services; result, more traffic.

There is a rare exception, but it is very far away for us in the NYC area, the Trans Hudson Tunnel
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Old 02-10-08, 12:44 PM   #17
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tolls for all users should be charged at the entrances and exits, just like the NYS Thruway. Or just eliminate the toll booths and use electronic tolling devices like the Port Authority Bridges in NYC. The technology is available now.
But how will poor people get to work if they can't afford the toll?

(That's the mantra around here. It's just really sad that the car is seen as such a necessity.)
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Old 02-10-08, 12:48 PM   #18
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the poor people of NYC seem to do just fine, and even many of the better off NYC residents don't own cars; it's the suburban commuters who are paying most of the tolls
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Old 02-10-08, 06:39 PM   #19
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But that is dependent on good mass transit.
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Old 02-10-08, 09:21 PM   #20
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But how will poor people get to work if they can't afford the toll?

(That's the mantra around here. It's just really sad that the car is seen as such a necessity.)
How will the poor get to work. It's simple, many will either cut back on essentials like food and medical care or will end up taking public transporation. Motoring is going to get very expensive and the cost of fuel may very well make it impossible for the poor to continue. The poor will simple have to find jobs closer to home or move.

I rented a car the other day and traveled only 40 miles paying 3 tolls costing $18.00 dollars! When you add that I spend $10.00 dollars in gas, that trip cost me $28.00 dollars in total. If I had to do that twice a day, I would be poor in no time and we are headed in that direction.
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Old 02-10-08, 09:59 PM   #21
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Doesn't matter. All administrations shift money from one account to another to pay for programs they feel is needed at the moment. Congress usually rubber stamps it, esp if it's in their district or benefits their constituents, and if the money shift doesn't affect current projects adversely within that particular budget item.

In the current economic climate, it's going to be hard to raise taxes to pay for anything. A lot of people are struggling to pay their bills as it is and politicians want to keep their job. So shifting funds/money around is the most popular option and makes it seem like something is being done...the regular joe can see the results of where their tax money is being used for, since the majority drive/use their cars/trucks for transportation or on the job.
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Old 02-10-08, 11:21 PM   #22
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Step one pump Federal and state money into new roads in TX, step two turn the roads over to a foreign company. Step three, don’t fix parallel streets thus creating more traffic problems, unless you use the privatized tool road.
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Old 02-11-08, 09:48 AM   #23
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....When you add that I spend $10.00 dollars in gas, that trip cost me $28.00 dollars in total. If I had to do that twice a day, I would be poor in no time and we are headed in that direction.
The increasing cost of accommodating the automobile is becoming a major issue not only for the individual but for the government as well. Automobile ownership is increasing at twice the rate of the population and miles driven is increasing at three times the population growth rate.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:17 AM   #24
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Mass transit that needed unionized, locally employed staff on a permanent basis would be an even better long-term jobs program than highways. Why does roadbuilding get all the credit that way?
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Old 02-11-08, 11:32 AM   #25
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the poor people of NYC seem to do just fine, and even many of the better off NYC residents don't own cars; it's the suburban commuters who are paying most of the tolls
New York, as a city, isn't representative of pretty much anywhere else in the country. To get the kind of density you find in NYC, the real estate goes up to the point where poor people can't even LIVE there.
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