$36,000,000,000 for Corn. $0 for Transit.

7_25_08_aaron_2.jpgThe House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would provide emergency funding to local transit systems facing simultaneous increases in ridership and fuel costs. The legislation is now stalled in the Senate. The Bush Administration has made clear their distaste for funding mass transit operating costs. They say they don’t want local transit systems to become dependent on federal subsidies. Meanwhile, when it comes to subsidizing Midwestern farmers and the operating costs of America’s fleet of private motor vehicles… well, here’s how Michael Daly of the Daily News summed it up in his column yesterday:

New York City has long sent the feds billions more in taxes each year than we get back in services. To give you an idea of one place the money goes, here is what the
feds gave corn farmers to tend their fields in a two-year period: $36
billion.

Here is what we got to run the subway: 0

The feds have been reasonable when it comes to helping out with big
projects like the new subway and train tunnels that never get done.
But, we get not a penny toward the day-to-day cost of transporting 4
million straphangers.

I interviewed Larry Hanley a couple of weeks ago. He’s the former Staten Island bus driver (famous for getting up in Rudy Giuliani’s grill, among other things) who now serves as a Vice President of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Negotiating contracts across the Northeast, Hanley is seeing smaller transit systems in places like Lancaster, PA and Albany, NY cutting service and increasing fares at a time when they are also experiencing record increases in ridership.

With New Yorkers facing a pair of fare hikes and a deteriorating transit system, Hanley is arguing that federal funding in mass transit is an investment in local economies, green jobs, the environment and national defense. "We’ve got a Saudi Arabia’s worth of energy savings beneath the streets of New York City," Hanley said. "It’s called the subway."

Photo: Crowded bus in Champaign-Urbana by Benchilada on Flickr.

  • This is dreadful. The problem people want to be able to do the same thing, but paint it green. It’s bs. It’s crap. We can’t keep driving. That’s the hard answer. It is just like a person who is overweight. They can eat all sugarfree stuff they want, but if they keep eating like a bit, they are still going to die of diabetes or some horrible disease.

    Moderation. We can’t tell people it’s ok if you drive as long as it’s electric or corn or some other crap. We need to build a society where we are all working together, where it’s not just about me and what I do, but about us and what we all do. It’s selfish attitudes like I have to have my own car, I have to have my own huge house, I have to buy everything new that put us in this horrible predicament that we are in now.

    We can give “welfare” to the highways, we can give “welfare” to big irresponsible corporate business, but welfare to people and transit, that’s socialist commie voodoo weirdness, such absolute crap!!!

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