Sunday, March 8, 2009

Go Mass Transit

Let's upgrade our 20th century transportation system, clean up our air, shake off the shackles of foreign oil imports and create long-lasting, well-paid jobs building and maintaining an efficient, cheaper transportation network for people and freight.

"Transportation for America" is leading the charge to get this done:

Every six years, Congress sets the country's transportation and infrastructure priorities — allocating hundreds of billions of dollars for projects that shape our communities for generations. We need to raise our voices and make sure they use this moment to chart a new direction for our nation's transportation system.

Help us urge President Obama and Congress to create the world-leading, sustainable transportation system we so desperately need.

Join us in calling on Congress to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to create a 21st Century infrastructure and move our country in a bold new direction.

Learn more about our newly-released Campaign Platform for the Transportation Bill.

Related to the 2009 Transportaion Bill is the proposal to finance our overused roads and highways with a "Vehicle Miles Travelled" (VMT) tax which would replace the insufficient gasoline (18.4 cents/gallon) tax that now finances the Highway Trust Fund. Last year, the fund came up short, and Congress funneled in $8 billion to resuscitate it. As cars become more fuel efficient, revenues from this tax will continue to fall short. A better alternative, the VMT would tax drivers based on the number of miles driven (2 cents per mile). This tax would make drivers intimately conscious of the cost of driving, and disassociate highway funding from gasoline sales, and instead tie funding directly to road usage. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently suggested that such a tax might be necessary (along with a temporary gas tax increase) and he was shot down by the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

One issue with VMT proposals, though: it doesn't reward drivers of more fuel-efficient vehicles (at least not that I'm aware of). I would slam non-commercial SUV drivers with a vehicle registration tax based on weight. Those drivers should at least pay a little more to compensate for the extra damage they do to roads, and the additional hazard they impose on other drivers when they crash.

If you think we need a better plan for transportation in the U.S., sign the "Transportation for America" petition to let Congress know you're paying attention.

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