Is Transit a Priority for Nancy Pelosi?

480962177_c6fd7c8917.jpgPelosi helps cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Muni's T-line. Photo: kitetoa/Flickr
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco claims she is committed to public transit and reducing motor vehicle congestion. In a speech to the Regional Plan Association (RPA) last April she said her flagship issues as speaker are energy independence and reducing global warming.

"Our infrastructure choices will help determine whether people can choose alternatives to driving their cars," Pelosi told the RPA convention. "In Congress, we are leading by example with a ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative that will make our complex a model of green infrastructure and environmental stewardship."

If that's the case, why didn't Pelosi fight for public transit in the stimulus bill passed in the House yesterday, instead of a meager $9 billion that only rose to the original $12 billion because of an amendment by Rep. Jerry Nadler? Why is transportation spending so highway heavy at $30 billion? 

"This is not all we're going to do," said Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill. "We know we can’t do everything in one bill and there’s restraints on what we can spend. She said we have to do something to quickly turn around the economic situation. The number one priority here is turning the economy around."

Hammill actually said the $12 billion is "a huge step forward for public transit." In California, under the stimulus bill, about $950 million will be allocated as transit capital, compared to $2.7 billion for highways and bridges.

"This is a bill about the future," Pelosi said today at a news conference with fellow Democrats. "It is a bill that will guarantee that we will create jobs, that there will be good paying green jobs that will transform our infrastructure, transform our energy and how we use it and our dependence on foreign oil."

Let's hope Pelosi really means what she says about her commitment to fighting global warming and getting people out of their cars when Congress takes up the re-authorization of the Transportation Equity Act.

Story written by Bryan Goebel