As Ohio and Wisconsin Sink into Self-Imposed Austerity, California and Florida Profit on Rail

Proposed Downtown Tampa Station

» Florida’s high-speed project is now fully funded from the federal government; California is closer to connecting Fresno with Bakersfield. Other states, including Washington and Illinois, also receive major allocations.

Ohio and Wisconsin will not be getting the new intercity rail lines whose construction Washington agreed to fully fund just ten months ago. The November election of Republican governors meant the revocation of state support for projects that would have connected some Midwestern cities to the national rail network for the first time in decades, including along a line between Milwaukee and Madison and another between Cleveland and Cincinnati. These politicians ran successful campaigns partly based on a refusal to subsidize future train operations.

Today, the federal Department of Transportation announced that it would reappropriate the $1.2 billion in funds once meant for Ohio and Wisconsin to thirteen other states, with the large majority heading to California and

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An Extensive New Addition to Dallas’ Light Rail Network Makes it America’s Longest

Expanded Light Rail in Dallas

» New Green Line runs 28 miles from Carrollton to Southeast Dallas via downtown, but only every 15 minutes even during rush hours. To ensure its success, the DFW Metroplex must start taking the land use side of the transit equation more seriously.

Want proof that a massive light rail system doesn’t necessarily produce massive ridership? Look no further than Dallas, where 44 miles of DART light rail extending throughout the region and a rapidly growing population weren’t enough to prevent a decline in public transportation boardings between 2000 and 2010. The network carries about 60,000 riders a day — a pittance in the context of the city’s 1.3 million inhabitants. The most recent U.S. Census data show that the city’s transit mode share stands at less than 4%; the metropolitan region’s share is just 1.5%. Both are down from 2000.

Yet the city and

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Growing Conservative Strength Puts Transit Improvements in Doubt

» The next few years are likely to be difficult for advocates of public transportation because of increased hostility to government investment.

1987, 1991, 1995, 1998, and 2005 share a significant feature: In each of those years, members of Congress were able to come together to pass a multi-year bill that codified how the U.S. government was to collect revenues for and allocate expenditures on transportation. Not coincidentally, in each of those years, one political party controlled both the House and Senate.

In the 112th Congress, set to enter office in just one month, Democrats will run the Senate and Republicans the House. This split control will make passing any legislation difficult. Unlike in those aforementioned years, there is little chance that this group of legislators will be able to pass a multi-year transportation bill either in 2011 or 2012.

These circumstances, combined with increasingly strident conservative rhetoric about the need to reduce government

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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