the tea party is over national transportation policies must change
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The “TEA” Party is over… National Transportation Policies Must Change. Gregory Cohen, President American Highway Users Alliance Presentation for The American Dream Coalition September 16, 2006.

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the tea party is over national transportation policies must change

The “TEA” Party is over… National Transportation Policies Must Change

Gregory Cohen, President

American Highway Users Alliance

Presentation for The American Dream Coalition

September 16, 2006

Who we are: State affiliate organizations, AAA Clubs (the brave ones), truckers, bus companies, RV and motorcyclists, businesses that desire safe and efficient road networks
  • Lobbying
  • Media
  • Grassroots / Internet activism
transit ridership apta
Transit ridership - APTA
  • Transit ridership peaked in 1946, when Americans took 23.4 billion trips on trains, buses and trolleys.  (100 million less Americans than today)
  • By 1960, ridership dropped to 9.3 billion trips.
  • In 1972 ridership dropped to a low of 6.5B trips
  • Beginning in 1973, ridership started to increase, reaching 9.6 billion trips in 2004.
passenger travel
Passenger travel
  • 86.6% of trips in America are made in private vehicles, 1.5% are on public transit (most over roads), 8.6% are walking trips, and 3.4% are other trips
  • Less than 15% of trips are commutes. More than half of trips are family oriented, social, shopping, and recreational – generally not conducive to transit
  • 69% of freight moves by truck; 14% rail
  • 2.7 million trucks today on the road today
  • 3.7 million trucks in 10 years
  • 30% growth in imports from 2004-2006
  • Impact is at least $200 billion per year (DOT stat).
  • 40% increase in number of major traffic bottlenecks causing over 700,000 hours of delay (AHUA). Over 50 million hours of delay at 3 interchange bottlenecks in Atlanta.
  • Safety, time, fuel, pollution, carbon, and economic productivity all negatively impacted by severe congestion.
would you like some pie with your tea everyone does
Would you like some pie with your TEA? Everyone does.
  • ISTEA (1991) de-emphasized highways and hurt those paying highway user fees in favor of subsidizing transit & intermodalism, creating new planning regulations, and “enhancements”. Programs designed to pay-off environmental groups & smart growth activists
  • TEA 21 (1998) added “guaranteed” multiyear funding increases and expanded the number of interest groups clamoring for a piece of the pie.
  • SAFETEA-LU (2005) continued these programs largely unchanged. One positive was the streamlining provisions. However, no new funding could be freed up and increased spending guarantees exceeded incoming revenues. The Highway Trust Fund will be broke by 2009.
sudden demand for reform
Sudden demand for reform
  • The TEA party is over because:
    • We’re spending more than we’re collecting in fuel and truck taxes.
    • The Highway Trust Fund will be broke in 2009 forcing major cuts as soon as 2008.
    • The public is fed up with earmarks and with a program that doesn’t solve congestion, provide national mobility, or properly steward their user fees.
options for national highway policy
Options for National Highway Policy
  • No policy changes: Major cuts in federal funding would either lead to less national investment in transportation or more splintered state and local programs. No public support for more user fees.
  • Major policy changes: Reforms focused on national congestion relief priorities (see Georgia’s Congestion Mitigation Plan), bottleneck removal, and interstate freight mobility could lead to greater support for the national program
is there a legitimate federal interest in a national network of roads
Is there a legitimate Federal interest in a national network of roads?
  • Interstate commerce & travel
  • Security, evacuations, and defense
  • 43,400 lost lives/yr is a national epidemic
  • National economy is tied to mobility
other options
Other options
  • Increased state involvement
    • GAO study found strong evidence that States reduce transportation funding when fed-aid increases and vice-versa.
  • Increased private involvement
    • Leasing and construction of private toll roads provide a limited solution in select markets. But citizen opposition is strong, especially if the deals favor politicians more than highway users.
highway users position
Highway Users Position
  • The Highway Users supports a strong national highway program funded fully by highway users. We don’t want to ever be accused of being “subsidized”
  • The new national program must be dedicated to achieving true national mobility needs. We will support users paying ALL of the costs needed to achieve safety and mobility IF we do not have to pay for diversions, waste, and special interest groups’ “TEA and pie”.
but there are some things we don t accept
But there are some things we don’t accept:
  • New taxes and tolls without the requisite major reforms.
  • Backroom privatization deals without full and fair reinvestment in relevant highway infrastructure, free competition on parallel routes, and level-of-service guarantees. (No more Chicago deals)
  • Continued growth in diversion of user fees.
in conclusion the problems are real
In conclusion: the problems are real
  • 34% of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition; 27% of bridges are functionally or structurally deficient, and 36% of our major urban roads are congestion. 
  • VMT increasing at 26 times the rate of new capacity
  • More people will die on the roads over the course of SAFETEA-LU than attended Super Bowl XL.
  • No more money left in Highway Account
yet solutions are there
Yet solutions are there….
  • Pessimistic voices are no longer ruling the day
    • Mineta’s Congestion Relief Initiative: “Congestion is NOT inevitable.
    • Georgia’ Congestion Mitigation Plan proves that proper funding priorities can actually increase mobility. It should be a national model.
    • Reason Foundation’s latest study lays out the investment requirements for mobility in 2030 and shows that it can be done.
  • It’s time for a strong, visionary national highway program. There is little doubt that the benefits would far exceed costs.
  • But Highway Users need to trust their government to do the right thing and that means reforms first, more money second.

Greg Cohen 202-857-1200

[email protected]