From The Centre For Transportation Excellence – The Anti-Public Transit Crowd


The following from the CFTE is interesting, as the following names pop up North of the 49th once in a while. Strangely, many in the SkyTrain lobby think that these people support SkyTrain because they attack modern Light Rail in the United States, but of course, they don’t build SkyTrain in the U.S. do they. Once ‘Peak Oil’ kicks in in a decade or so, these people will probably be relegated as a rustic anachronism or 21st Century version of Luddites as American cities will be grappling with fuel shortages and rationing, inadequate transportation alternatives, but having miles and miles of very underused highways and expressways.

Randal O’Toole, Executive Director of Oregon’s Thoreau Institute (
His publications include: ISTEA: A Poisonous Brew for America’s Cities; Light Rail Myths and Realities; The Vanishing Automobile; and Light Rail: Yesterday’s Technology Tomorrow. O’Toole’s background is in economics, and prior to being energized by Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary, he worked mainly on forest issues and against the federal subsidization of logging. He was the primary organizer of the February 2003 transit critics conference, “Preserving the American Dream.”

Wendell Cox, a self-employed privatization proponent who lives in the St. Louis area who has written attacks on transit and Amtrak for the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Highway Users Alliance and others. His work includes the Cato publication False Dreams and Broken Promises: The Wasteful Federal Investment in Mass Transit and has continued with numerous op-eds, seminars and radio and TV appearances in communities considering new transit investments. Cox has authored reports for the Wisconsin Policy Center and the James Madison Institute attacking the proposed Milwaukee rail system and the Florida Overland Express high speed rail project. Cox’s background as an expert is derived from his appointment to the old Los Angeles County Transportation Commission as a citizen member. He has been employed by various conservative and road building groups over the years. Cox is also known for his anti-Portland and transit-bashing website, (, which Peter Gordon has cited in his presentations.

John Semmens, a fellow at Phoenix’s Goldwater Institute. His major contribution so far is the report “Public Transit: A Worthwhile Investment?” The report was an attempt to de-rail the Phoenix Transit 2000 initiative, which called for a .4 percent tax increase to expand bus service and build a light rail line there. The ballot measure was approved in March of 2000. Semmens’ report includes a number of fact sheets, including “A Declining Industry”, “A Financial Disaster”, “A Blight on the Economy”, and “A Failure Everywhere.”

Robert Poole, President of the Reason Foundation. He and others at the Reason Foundation have published detailed attacks on the Los Angeles MTA’s rail projects and on transit investments in general. Poole came to Phoenix before the 1997 referendum to attack the proposed regional transit system at seminars and on the radio. This visit created negative coverage in several local media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, which was otherwise in favor of the project.

Stephen Mueller of the Independence Institute played a role in undermining support for the 1997 referendum on the Denver light rail project with his paper Light Rail In Denver: Taking Taxpayers for a Ride and numerous appearances in the local media.

John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute in Oregon began as an environmentalist and has evolved into a libertarian who promotes congestion pricing and attacks transit and planned growth. His recommendations include: “Local transit taxes should be abolished, Oregon’s ties to federal government transit funding should be terminated, and publicly owned transit assets should be auctioned off. Stop any further spending on publicly owned urban rail systems.” He also travels to spread the word: the Phoenix Business Journal reported that “… Charles was invited to Phoenix by the Goldwater Institute.”

Peter Samuel, editor of the self-published Toll Roads Newsletter, wrote a piece for the Reason Foundation which makes the case that one can build one’s way out of congestion. Samuel is a libertarian and an advocate of building toll roads and converting existing highways to toll roads as a solution to transportation problems. His past work includes writings for the Cato Institute promoting highway privatization, and he is also associated with something called the Sutherland Institute, and has joined the fray over Salt Lake City’s light rail proposal, arguing that the absence of rail has been a reason for growth in the West.

Other main actors include Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson of the University of Southern California, Charles Lave of the University of California at Irvine, Steven Hayward of the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania, and others.


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One Response to “From The Centre For Transportation Excellence – The Anti-Public Transit Crowd”

  1. David Says:

    So what are poor people supposed to do without public transit? Hitch-hike and pray some wealthy libertarian picks them up?

    Tolling roads without providing any alternative means that even the middle class is hard pressed to afford to drive.

    Do these men have the mental capacity to think about anyone other than themselves?

    Thank goodness aircraft are still very expensive and the requirements for getting a pilot’s license are steep. Otherwise these men would be advocating more airports so people could follow the American Dream of flying whenever and wherever they wanted.

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