After reading over both Barack and Hillary’s transportation policy statements, I have to go with Hillary as the more detailed and believable.
Barack’s statement uses the right key words like smart growth, livable communities, hubs, and sprawl but there are no teeth to his statements. For example he says, “as president, [I] will work to provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities.” What types of resources?? How does he know what they need?? This is a lousy ending sentence to the only paragraph on metropolitan planning and sprawl.
Hillary on the other hand does not use any of the modern city planning lingo but does give some hard numbers to back up her ideas. Basically, she throws down the “B” word several times. 10^9 sounds like a lot of money! it sounds like she cares. As a friend pointed out, a “B” is about how much it costs a single city to do any major transit project, so how is her campaign promise going to make a dent in the much needed urban planning nightmare we are sleepwalking into.
Reading both plans reminded me of political promises that are sometimes hard to fulfill. In my former neck of the woods, piedmont NC, a planned rail system went belly-up because it didn’t make it high enough on a list for federal funding. The Raleigh-Durham region lost out because it couldn’t “prove” that riders would use the proposed rail service. The proof was supposed to come from passenger counts on the current regional bus service, which is all well and good, except that the regional route (between cities route) only ran 3 times in the AM and 3 times in the PM. Tell me how that level of service is supposed to equate to train ridership?? Anyway, the big losers are the poor commuters stuck on I-40 between here and there who could have been cruising by rail reading the paper instead of stuck in traffic breathing each others exhaust.
I think that both Hillary and Barack could do a better job of weening Americans off the “car culture” instead of making promises about fixing the nations aging infrastructure. Perhaps we should let our interstates get a few more potholes! They should also start a livable cities boot camp that every US and State DOT employee can take sensitivity training on how to address the needs of pedestrians, bus riders, train riders and bikers. It would be like Hamburger University, but without the drive-thru.
Anything the candidates do for transit would be better than the current administration, which has a 2009 budget that recommends sending transit funds to the highway trust fund, a veritable black hole (see article in smart growth america).