Rethinking Federal Transportation Policy: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love General Fund Revenues
April 8, 2014
The federal transportation program, which provides 40 percent of capital funding for highways and mass transit in the U.S., lacks direction, purpose, and financial stability. Since 2008 it has limped along without any clear direction or purpose, while at the same time starving for cash. The net effect is that as a nation we tend to make poor investment decisions in transportation relative to potential national goals such as economic growth, environmental improvements, mobility, or safety. We are underinvesting in operational improvements, system preservation, metropolitan regions and freight, and spending too much on capital, new facilities, new areas for development, and perceived local needs.
How can we hope to change this? Even a non-existent policy, like the one we have now, represents a policy direction. We must seize that direction, codify it, and make it into something worthwhile and effective.