Friday, November 21, 2008

The Revolution Will Be on the Streets

A New Transportation Deal for the Nation?

I participate in an email discussion group in San Francisco called "Car Free Living." Most of the participants are transportation wonks who ride bicycles and/or walk and then gather on the first Wednesday of every month at popular local watering hole to discuss transportation policy.

Right now, people are talking about the auto bailout, Barack Obama's choice of transportation appointees, and the fact that Henry Waxman (D-California) usurped John Dingell (D-Michigan) as chair of an important house committee that oversees energy matters.

Here's a link to President-Elect Obama's "Change" webpage regarding transportation:

If I were serious about change, I'd be thinking of nationalizing the auto industry (or at the very least, putting it into a receivership, as Michael Moore, below, suggests), and creating a New Transportation Deal for the nation with the very serious goal of reducing our energy use and sprawl. Moore, a child of auto manufacturing country himself, says the following:

"We're going to put the companies into some sort of receivership and we, the government, are going to hold the reigns on these companies. They're to build mass transit. They're to build hybrid cars. They're to build cars that use little or no gasoline.

"We're facing a national crisis, not just an economic crisis, but a crisis of the polar ice caps melting. There's only so much oil left under the Earth. We're going to run out of that, if not in our children's time, our grandchildren's time."

Does Henry Waxman's replacement of John Dingell as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee signal revolutionary change (because that's what we need)? Let's hope so. We all know that newspapers run stories about the demise of the auto industry alongside stories about global warming -- and yet rarely, does the content of the stories overlap. The story on Henry Waxman in today's San Francisco Chronicle is an exception, as the environment and clean air do get mention.

Meanwhile, the president-elect is keeping a low profile regarding the automobile industry's desire for a bailout, and suggesting vague job creation programs that include rebuilding roads and bridges and the manufacture of alternative-fuel cars. But there is no mention of expanding public transportation or building affordable housing in our cities or elsewhere.

No comments: