When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth (and D.C.)

Further news that the Department of Transportation just doesn’t get it: There is a headline in the NY Times today: “Drop in Miles Driven Is Depleting Highway Fund; Loan From Mass Transit Is Urged.”

What does that mean?

Gasoline tax revenue is falling so fast that the federal government may not be able to meet its commitments to states for road projects already under way, the secretary of transportation said Monday.

The secretary, Mary E. Peters, said the short-term solution would be for the Highway Trust Fund’s highway account to borrow money from the fund’s mass transit account, a step that would balance the accounts as highway travel declines and use of mass transit increases. Both trends are being driven by the high price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Hey, that’s a good funding idea! Despite skyrocketing demand for mass transit in the US (finally!), and a desperate need to fund mass transit to help it cope, let’s take money away from transit to fund road projects, even though people are driving less!

(Just for kicks, check out Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ quote about things that are “not really transportation,” like bike paths. Might I humbly mention that I used just such a path for my commute this morning?)

But wait, you say. Maybe we’re over-funding transit. Maybe transit doesn’t really need that money. Let’s see:

Hmm. Nope.

Now, that’s not to say our infrastructure isn’t falling apart, and badly needs help. So … maybe the answer is to wean ourselves off a permanent war economy, stop spending billions to mop up the mess we made in Iraq, and put that money into our own country, where it would do a little good?

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