- While we continue to argue with each other on the local level, other mega-regions have formed powerful coalitions to advocate in Washington for their collective transportation needs. Who is more likely to get their fair share of an insufficient federal transportation funding pie, huge regions of the country who band together to fight for their parochial interests, or mid-sized metropolitan areas whose elected officials can't even agree on priorities among themselves?
- Not only Pennsylvania, but countless other states are acknowledging that their transportation infrastructure needs and those of the nation as a whole are so staggering that non-public funding and/or operation of parts of that infrastructure, as well as congestion pricing or other tolling mechanisms, must be contemplated as at least part of the solution. Ironically, the decrease in driving and popularity of smaller vehicles is making the problem even more acute, as gasoline tax revenue is no longer an elastic source of revenue. Is Wisconsin behind the eight ball in awakening to these realities?
- The Journal article notes that "momentum is building in Congress" to increase funding for public transportation, signaling good news for those counting on greater federal support to build and operate light rail, bus rapid transit and/or commuter rail in southeast Wisconsin. At the same time, however, both that article and the AP story describe the monumental challenges facing transit systems in paying for existing bus and rail service. That reality - combined with a depleted Federal Highway Fund that has some in Washington talking about diverting transit dollars for highway needs - reflects the challenges Milwaukee will face in attempting to obtain federal money for new transit services.
Of course, the fundamental lesson here is that transportation needs not only here in southeast Wisconsin, but across the country, are immense, and that other states and metro areas are objectively assessing those needs and developing strategic, diversified and cohesive approaches to meeting them. If indeed Washington is poised to provide more money, then it's a pretty safe bet that those with the best plans and the most unity will be first in line to get it.