President Bush didn’t score any popularity points with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) when he issued his State of the Union Address early this month.
APTA president William W. Miller published a press release in response to the Address, criticizing Bush for his failure to include public transportation among his half-baked solutions to a laundry list of problems: a struggling economy, environmental issues, and the nation’s need for energy independence.
From the APTA:
With high gas prices, many Americans are feeling the pinch and using public transportation is one way that they can save money. President Bush talked about a plan to put more money in the average citizen’s pocket. What he failed to mention was that households that use public transportation save more than $6,200 every year, compared to a household with no access to public transportation. This is a significant amount of money and represents more than the average household pays for food each year.
Public transit is feeling the financial pinch, too. Days before addressing the nation, Bush published his proposed budget for the Department of Transportation in which he suggested significant cuts in funding to public transit.
The APTA responded:
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is outraged that the Bush Administration’s budget request for FY 2009 would cut $202.1 million for public transportation and proposes to transfer an estimated $3.2 billion dedicated for public transportation to fund highway projects.
The tens of millions of Americans who depend on public transportation should not be treated as second-class citizens compared to people who choose to drive cars. (My emphasis)
In his speech, Bush drawled on about energy independence, the environment, and the economy, but failed even to mention public transportation as a key part of the solution to each of these pressing issues. The President also failed to recognize that suburban sprawl is largely responsible for many of the country’s woes, from the cost of gas to the high cost of health care for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, spending hours each day behind the wheel.
The APTA reminded Bush that public transit saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year—nearly 300,000 gallons per day. That’s the equivalent of 108 million cars filling their tanks. Parking the car and switching to public transit can reduce your daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, totaling more than 4,800 pounds per year. According to the APTA, using public transit reduces carbon emissions more than weatherizing your home, switching to CFLs, or using energy efficient appliances.
From the APTA:
One of the quickest ways to reduce our country’s dependence on oil is for people to use the public transportation system in their community. If public transportation was expanded so that more Americans could use public transit, this savings would grow and our national goal of realizing energy independence would be closer to being achieved.
Derailing public transit won’t get us any closer to ending sprawl, slowing climate change, or reducing dependence on oil. Instead of putting his money where his mouth is, Bush has opened his mouth—and inserted his cowboy boot.
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