Economist: Transportation Bill Runs Into Reality

The Economist on the transportation bill:

The trouble with a bold, $500 billion plan is that it requires $500 billion. The Highway Trust Fund provides federal money for transport. It will be broke by late August. On June 17th Ray LaHood, the transport secretary, said that he wants to postpone the bill’s reauthorisation.

Few would defend America’s current transport policy. Each year congestion costs more than $78 billion in wasted hours and petrol. Washington’s main transport strategy has been not to have one. The Department of Transportation (DoT) runs 108 different programmes. But an integrated system for planning—one that includes passenger rail, freight, highways and mass transport—does not exist. Full analyses of projects’ costs or benefits are rare.

…In the long term, congestion pricing is the best solution, but it could take years to adopt…

…There may be a new vision for transport, but it will never progress until someone is willing to pay for it.