The future of public transit in America – will Canada Follow?


The following is from Lyndon Henry, from the Light Rail Now folks, who is an avid supporter of public transit and light rail in the United States.

I fear, as many do in Ontario, that our current populist politicians will lead us to a new public transit dark age, where precious transit monies are spent on glitzy, politically prestigious projects like subways on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain them and highways, creating more gridlock and land use chaos. Transit advocates must stand alert for political inference and “take no prisoners” on politically inspired and expensive transit initiatives that will do little or nothing for the transit customer.

I find it a very sour irony that, after 8 years of a far-right
administration hostile to rail transit and intent on dismembering
Amtrak, the replacement of the “nightmare” regime by the “Hope and
Change” regime has led to prospects for rail transit, Amtrak –
indeed, all public transport – that may be even more dire than ever.

Even more disastrous than the outlook for a Congress more
dysfunctional (and malicious) than before is the clear trend toward a
blanket renunciation of virtually all socially beneficial public
investment, and the new Fear campaign now emerging focused on the
potential takeover of the USA by China as a consequence of deficit
spending (have you seen the latest TV ads promulgating this?).

As far as I can tell, the prevailing mindset in the top echelons of
America’s ruling circles has embraced a renunciation of significant
public investment in favor of a policy focus on near-term profit
engorgement, a Gilded Age business vision, and basically a fairly
brutal, barren YOYO (You’re On Your Own) world. I believe this
explains the billions now being funnelled into ongoing political
campaigns to further the new objectives of this mindset.

I would not expect public transport to fare well in this emerging
political climate. Public transport advocates should be ready for
some very rough times.


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