Why Politicians Don't Get Mass Transit

Ray LaHood wants better infrastructure after crash, but it'll never happen
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2013 1:28 PM CST
Updated Dec 2, 2013 1:58 PM CST

In the wake of the train disaster in the Bronx, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to MSNBC and called on lawmakers to invest in America's "50-year-old transit systems." But when it comes to public transit, that plea will probably fall on deaf ears. "Mass transit is doomed in the United States," writes Alex Pareene at Salon. Across the country, far more is spent on roads and drivers than trains and buses. Why? Because driving is the province of the wealthy. "For most of the political class, everyone they know and interact with owns a car."

America's political system inherently "heavily favors the interests of the rural and the suburban over the urban," Pareene writes. But even in subway-loving New York City, public transit-friendly policies are dead-on-arrival; not coincidentally, the state's governor drives. Minneapolis ought to have a great public transit system. Instead, its suburban system is ambitious, while the urban system "is unreliable, neglected, and nearly impossible to navigate." If these dense, liberal cities have "so much trouble creating and maintaining a decent mass transit system," Pareene wonders, "what hope is there for the rest of America's cities?" Click for his full column. (Read more public transportation stories.)

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