US DOT Head Ray LaHood to Transportation Nation Readers: Transpo Bill is "Highway Centric"

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 09:29 AM

For his latest "On the Go" video Q&A, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary fielded questions from Transportation Nation readers, who grilled him about the new transportation bill (MAP 21) and high-speed rail.

"We think that the MAP probably a little highway centric," says LaHood, but "I think we're on the right track" when it comes to bike and pedestrian improvements.

In response to a question about the prospects of high-speed rail in the Northeast, LaHood said that the federal government is investing $3 billion in rail upgrades along the corridor. "Amtrak is doing well," he said, pointing out that ridership is  booming. While not talking specific timing for fast trains along the Boston-to-DC route, he said "the future is very bright" for rail in the Northeast.

Enough of transportation. What will the secretary be watching at the summer Olympics? It turns out he's a swimming aficionado ("people have to train very, very hard") as well as a basketball fan -- but he deftly sidestepped the current debate over whether the 2012 U.S. basketball team is the equal of the "dream team."



Comments [4]


The entire program has suffered nearly 30 years of systematic diversion of highway user fees to non-highway uses. Those who are directly taxed, and rightly expect their taxes and fees to be used to maintain and expand their chosen system, are incensed by the continued diversion of their hard-earned dollars and won't stand for increased fees if it means more diversion - no matter how necessary. Getting more user fees means restoring faith in the efficacy of the program, and adapting to new revenue mechanisms like VMT.

'Pay-as-you-go as a recipe for failure' is certainly the case for transit and alt. modes with exceedingly few rare exceptions. That is why transit's grip on HTF revenues are as tight as the ALIEN bug's grip on a victim's head in which it's egg is implanted.

Jul. 26 2012 05:24 PM
James Harris

The Olympics questions is a waste. Grill him!

Jul. 23 2012 01:56 PM
Sick Transit

"100% of the taxes and fees that fund the HTF originate from truckers’ and motorists’ fuel and excise taxes ..."
True enough, but that only covers about HALF of the total cost. The rest of it comes out of general funding - that means you, me, and everyone else even if we never use a car.

How 'bout stepping back and looking at the big picture??? Every person who's on a bus or train or even a bicycle is one less person crowding the highways. If everyone drove there wouldn't be enough space to build the necessary roads or parking lots in most larger cities. It's the same thing as funding education: even though my kids graduated long ago I don't object to paying school taxes because that money helps ensure an educated workforce that benefits everybody.

Trying to selfishly apply the mantra of pay-as-you-go to all services is a recipe for failure.

Jul. 21 2012 10:59 PM

The new bill is quite rightly highway-centric. Many feel it still isn't highway-centric enough.

100% of the taxes and fees that fund the HTF originate from truckers' and motorists' fuel and excise taxes for highway use. Transit, bike and pedestrian users pay nothing into the HTF, yet get staggeringly large subsidies at the expense of motorists, whom they constantly villify for driving the vehicles that provide the funding.

Jul. 20 2012 04:35 PM

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