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.

PDF of PowerPoint presentation (pdf)

Joshua L. Schank

Joshua L. Schank

Joshua L. Schank is President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonprofit foundation with the mission of improving transportation policy and leadership. Before joining Eno, he directed the National Transportation Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He was transportation policy advisor to Sen. Hillary Clinton during the development of the previous surface transportation authorization bill (SAFETEA-LU). Schank's work in transportation policy and planning is well documented in his publications, including All Roads Lead to Congress: The $300 Billion Fight Over Highway Funding, co-authored with Costas Panagopoulos. He holds a Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University, a Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.A. in urban studies from Columbia University.