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High Speed Rail

Is the Obama Administration Poised to Push Transit?

9:20 AM PDT on April 24, 2009

While President Barack Obama promoted wind power and cap-and-trade legislation, VP Joe Biden spent Earth Day talking up transit. Public radio's "The Takeaway"
reports that Biden held a presser at a bus maintenance facility in
Landover, Maryland, to tout a $300 million investment in hybrid buses
and other municipal vehicles as part of the federal stimulus package.
Said Biden:

This program, the CleanCities program, is in its 15th year. Already it's saved two billiongallons of petroleum used since its inception. And now, it's time toramp it up. Ramp it up in a big way. We know it works.

As
reporter Andrea Bernstein points out, this is not breaking news. What's
interesting, she says, is the seemingly intensifying focus of the White
House on transit as the fight over the next round of federal
transportation spending approaches.

Iwould say that up to now there has been mostly disappointment amongpeople who care about mass transit in the Obama administration. Peoplefelt that the recovery act only had $8 billion dollars, now that's $8billion but it's $8 billion out of $800 billion, so that's 1% andthat's all the money for transit, and they were saying that isn'tenough money, it doesn't show a real commitment, you can't reallychange things with that.

So when they begin to see theadministration talking about high speed rail, when they begin to seethe administration talking about mass transit going as Joe Biden didyesterday to a transit station for his Earth Day thing, they'rethinking ok, so maybe this administration is going to put seriousmuscle behind this. As a reauthorization fight comes up, speaking to alobbyist from NRDC who has expressed great disappointment up to now,and he said you know, I think things may be beginning to turn.

So
what do you think? Are you seeing evidence of an emerging, pro-transit
agenda from DC these days? Could Biden's enthusiasm over buses and Ray LaHood's cyclist pledge
be part and parcel of a preemptive push to shake up the asphalt-loaded
federal funding formula -- or is the admin simply playing to an
attention-starved constituency?

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