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Rising Demand for Transit Could Be a “Turning Point”

7:06 AM PDT on July 17, 2008

CNN broadcast yesterday a relatively in-depth piece on U.S. cities scrambling to meet rising demand for mass transit.

With a fight over billions of dollars of federal transportation funding set to heat up immediately after the swearing-in of the next president, this may very well be the most important transportation policy story of the next 18 months. The battle lines are already being drawn up:

In this corner: smart growth, green collar jobs and mass transit.

In that corner: Auto makers, asphalt pourers and the drill, drill, drillers

From CNN:

Some observers such as Dr. Robert Lang, an expert on urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech University, say the gas crunch could be a turning point in perceptions of public transportation and how cities plan development.

Consumers are beginning to believe the high prices are a result of structural changes in the global economy, not the result of a single event like Hurricane Katrina, which produced a period of high fuel prices earlier this decade, Lang said.

That change in perception is providing more momentum for some cities that were already moving away from six-lane highways and suburbs dozens of miles apart, to a series of urban centers connected by light rail and other mass transit systems.

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