Myths and Facts of Nation’s Transit Policy
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Myths and Facts of Nation’s Transit Policy

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  • English

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    • Abstract:
      The surface transportation reauthorization bills now being considered by the Congress continue the government-dominated approach that has not worked in the past. They ignore the results of 25 years of research (much of it federally funded) that has demonstrated the problems of the conventional approaches. Public transit monopolies are now slated to get larger capital grants and more operating subsidies, even though it has been established that the former encourage local planners to promote wasteful rail transit projects while the latter encourage a continuation of inefficiencies and a shifting of costs from riders to taxpayers. Rail transit and many fixed-route bus systems are inappropriate for dispersed and decentralizing U.S. cities. Riders care about their time and find that conventional transit is an expensive choice. This paper contends that Congress should incorporate the 25 years of research results and adopt a federal transit program along these lines: Phase out discretionary federal capital grants over a five-year period, and eliminate the "earmarking" of grants for specific projects; Convert transit operating subsidies to transit vouchers for low-income people; Make continued federal aid contingent on deregulating local transit markets; Convert the capital grants program into a no-strings "block grant" program; Exempt from federal income tax employer-provided travel allowances (in lieu of employer-paid parking); Remove the federal ban on charging prices for use of Interstate expressway segments in congested urban areas; To encourage competitive contracting of transit service, repeal the Section 13(c) labor-protection clause of the urban mass transit law.
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