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Weekend Update: Transit Funding; Chicago Congestion Fees; Ontario HSR

Quick news updates:

  • Congressman James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is looking to dramatically improve mass transit’s share of total federal transportation outlays, reports the Wall Street Journal. This would be a dramatic improvement, as transit currently receives 25% of the total allocations put towards highways; Oberstar wants to increase that percentage to 40% – $12 billion in the next year alone.
  • As we reported last week, the failure of the auto bailout would also mean that the transit agencies that had lost big bucks because of the failure of companies like AIG would not be bailed out. However, the Washington Post reports today that Senators and House members are pressuring President Bush to include aid for transit in his Treasury-financed GM and Chrysler package. But, unless the pressure’s increased, the administration isn’t going to do anything about it, which in some ways makes sense, for reasons we’ve discussed before.
  • Economic advisers to the Ontario Premier are suggesting that Canada could benefit from a large high-speed rail system centered around Toronto. The network’s more than 500-km of track would cost up to $20 billion to build and take years of construction time to be implemented, but it would make sense, especially if it were connected to the high-speed network that neighboring Quebec wants to see built.

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