Hopefully Amtrak regular, Vice President Joe Biden, can nudge the senate towards spending more on rail and less on roads in order to create more jobs.
The House of Representatives has passed a $154 billion jobs bill, and now it goes to the Senate which is scheduled to consider it early next year.
The bill includes $48.7 billion set aside for the Department of Transportation -- with $27.5 billion for highways and only $8.4 billion for transit and $800 million for Amtrak.
Yet based on the first round of job-creation data from stimulus spending commissioned by Congress and analyzed by public interest groups, every $1 billion spent on transit created nearly twice as much employment as the same amount spend on roads.
The Bay Area could use some of that job-creating transit money, with projects like a new transit hub in downtown San Francisco, to the extension of BART to San Jose and the Oakland Airport, San Francisco's Central Subway, and electrification of Caltrain.
Some of those projects might be more effiicient than others, but hey, a job's a job, right?
While the study did not speculate as to how much indirect economic benefit transit projects would provide over car-centric projects, even if financially less, the reduction in externalities -- costs not easily accounted for by direct markets -- like pollution, public health and imported energy like oil would likely be significant.
On a cost-benefit analysis, transit is the clear winner -- a fact not lost among some market-efficiency fundamlists.
Unfortunately, the trend for publicly funded infrastructure has been up, up, up for air and road projects, and nearly flat for rail.
Meanwhile, like their relatively inexpensive healthcare, citizens of other developed nations like France, Japan and even China enjoy robust intracity transit and high-speed intercity transit.
While we pay more for less. But hey, think of all the rugged individualism the residents of cookie-cutter suburban developments driving identical SUVs enjoy!
Jackson West would even be willing to create a few new robber barons if it meant better train and transit in the United States.