Greater City Providence

Where’s the strategic investment?

In President-elect Obama’s weekly address he discusses American Recovery and Reinvestment.

In the video above (transcript here) Obama says:

That’s why we need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term. And this plan must be designed in a new way – can’t just fall into the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem. We must make strategic investments that will serve as a down payment on our long-term economic future.

and

To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will double renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

and

To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and schools.

OK, yes, we do need to invest in our crumbling roads and bridges, especially here in Rhode Island where it seems just about every bridge is on the brink of collapse (I’m not the only one who holds my breath driving over the Pawtucket River Bridge I’m sure). However throwing more money at roads and bridges without even mentioning mass transit is not a strategic investment plan and is not the way to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

While RIPTA runs on vapors, we are all quickly being lulled back into the familiar embrace of sub $2/gallon gas prices. It was only a couple months ago that people were abandoning their cars in droves to save money by riding on our already far too overburdened transit system. Current plans for RIPTA include rate hikes, the elimination or routes, and ending all service at 7pm. Without strategic investment now, our transit system will not be prepared when gas inevitably inches back towards $3, $4, or $5/gallon again.

A down payment on our long-term economic future cannot be more of the same building of highways that we’ve been doing for the last half century. Continual road construction with a lack of vision for public transit has put us in the economic and environmental mess we currently find ourselves in.

We must urge President-elect Obama to expand his vision and recognize that public transit is a tool towards our economic recovery and independence and a healthy and sustainable environment.

Update

So John Massengale posted this on his blog:

So at least when he’s campaigning in the Rust Belt, he gets it. How can he not get it? He went to college in Cambridge (a city with amongst the highest ratio of Public Transit and walking commuters), he represented Chicago in the Illinois General Assembly and the Senate, he did community organizing work in the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago… So bring it Obama!

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.

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