Building America'S Future

Transportation Nation

That Infrastructure Advocacy App Has 10,000 Users Already

Monday, August 12, 2013


A smartphone app that part soap box for complaining about traffic and part infrastructure advocacy has generated 1,700 letters to Congress after two weeks on the market. 

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Transportation Nation

Former PA Gov Rendell: Best Transpo Bill Would "Do No Harm"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Transit backers have given up on a comprehensive highway bill this go-around, hoping instead that whatever passes Congress this year lays the table for 2013. And, they say, whatever comes in 2013 must put public transportation on equal footing with roads.

That was the message today on a conference call given by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which released a report predicting that volatility in gas prices would spur an additional 290 million passenger trips on public transportation this year.

APTA says transit systems nationwide are groaning under the weight of additional passengers and less funding. "More than 80% of our members have had to either raise fares, cut service, or do both as a way to manage their economic challenges," Michael Melaniphy, APTA's president, said. "At the same time, we had our second-highest ridership since 1957 last year."

Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and a co-chair of the infrastructure group Building America's Future (which co-sponsored the report), was asked about the likelihood of transportation funding reform in the current political climate.

"I don't think we're going to get a five or a six-year bill. I think we'll get something that will carry us into 2013, and I think the best that we can hope for at this point is to do no harm," Rendell said. "But in 2013, it seems to me that Congress and the administration have to come to grips with the problems facing not only our transportation infrastructure, but our entire infrastructure."

Which, he said, "is in desperate shape," adding that he's hoping for "a ten year, long-term infrastructure revitalization program."

Rendell said he had been “horrified by the original proposal floated by the House” that would have stopped gas-tax revenues from being used to fund transit systems. Republicans had said instead that transit funding should come out of a general fund. But that provision was not included in the extension passed in March, which kept things more or less status quo.

Curtis Stitt, the president of the Central Ohio Transit Authority, offered a cautionary tale about general revenue funding -- which, he said, is how public transit is funded in Ohio. "Ten years ago," he said, "the entire state got -- for about 42 transit agencies in the state -- we got about $43 million." In the aftermath of the financial crisis, he said, "this year we're getting $7 million."

APTA officials urged Congress to look at the transportation system holistically -- because that's how Americans see it. Gary Thomas, who runs Dallas' transit system and is also APTA's chairman, said "they view our transportation network as one system. Which is why both public transportation and the road network should continue to receive funding from the highway trust fund."


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Transportation Nation

As Race Moves to South Carolina, Pothole Ads Do, Too

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Building America's Future, the pro-infrastructure spending group chaired by Ed Rendell, Michael Bloomberg, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, can't stop campaigning.

After spending $250,000 to buy ads in New Hampshire, the group is spending $75,000 - maybe more -- to inject the issue into the South Carolina campaign.

There was some talk of infrastructure spending in the Granite State, though not much, and the issue didn't make its way into any debates.

But hope springs eternal.  Maybe the issue will come up in one of the two  South Carolina debates, which will be on January 16th and the 19th.

(Romney already discussed the issue in SC, here. )

You can read up on Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney's transportation records here.

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Transportation Nation

"Harry and Louise" Promote Infrastructure Spending in New Hampshire Political Ad

Friday, December 02, 2011

The pro-infrastructure spending group, Building America's Future, is running an ad in New Hampshire in advance of next month's primary arguing for more spending on "roads and bridges." BAF is calling it "a substantial television ad to run through December 21," adding that it's spending more than seven of the nine presidential candidates. The New Hampshire primary is January 8.

The ad features the familiar issue-based formula of husband and wife arguing ask they drive through potholed streets.

"We don't need to spend more money on roads and bridges," Husband argues. In about 5 seconds Wife is able to convince him of the error of his ways but assuring him "earmarks" wouldn't get the money.

The ad is acknowledgment by pro-infrastructure groups that they've done a poor job of winning the meta-discussion on infrastructure spending. Since Barack Obama was elected President, the once-sacrosanct bipartisan consensus that infrastructure spending was, in general, a good thing, has seriously frayed.

None of the Republican candidates for president has offered as-of-yet a detailed plan on paying for infrastructure, though they've all endorsed serious reductions in government spending in general.

BAF has also formed bipartisan coalitions in New Hampshire and South Carolina to campaign for infrastructure spending in advance of early primaries in those states.

Spokeswoman Laura Braden said in an email: "The goal of both coalitions is to educate policymakers and voters on the importance of infrastructure investment and reform. They're participating in a mix of grassroots and media activities including events, opinion-editorials and media interviews. It's important to note that the states were chosen because of the early presidential primaries, which is causing considerable debate on policy issues and priorities – we want infrastructure to be in that discussion."

BAF was founded by former governors Arnold Schwartzenegger and Ed Rendell, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Transportation Nation

Rendell: Congress Should "Take a Deep Breath" and Pass Infrastructure Bank Now

Monday, August 08, 2011

That the group Building America's Future thinks the U.S. should be investing more money in infrastructure is about as shocking as 90 degree temps in August, but in a conference call announcing the release of its new report: "Falling Apart and Falling Behind," former PA Governor Ed Rendell, one of BAF's chairs, gave a particularly urgent call to arms on an infrastructure bank, which would leverage federal funds to funnel private investment into roads, bridges, transit, and rail.

"Congress has to take a deep breath and listen," Rendell said, when asked how to clear the increasingly daunting hurdle of asking the federal government to do anything about infrastructure spending .

"Let’s take the infrastructure bank.  If we create the infrastructure bank and hold it for major transportation projects of regional significance, if  we fund it at $5 billion a year, $5 billion in credit subsidy from federal treasury,  that would produce over  $600 billion in private sector investment, and in the end because these would be loans that would be repaid, in the end cost to the federal treasury? Zero.  Zero.   And we get $600 billion that we could invest in infrastructure repair in the next decade."


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