Reposted from wjhamilton29464 by LakeSuperior
From Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit
This statement was prepared for the April 23rd. protest at the Office of US Congressman Mark Sanford in Mount Pleasant, SC. At that protest the Congressman agreed to meet with the demonstrators via Skype from his DC office. An intense, but polite 20 minute exchange took place during which the congressman said he introduced his bill to completely defund federal support for public transit over a period of five years to stimulate debate. 3 other members of the SC Congressional delegation are among the 8 co sponsors. Sanford stated he didn’t want to see local transit service end. The current federal authorization to fund public transit across the entire United States expires on May 31, 2015. Activists with Hungryneck Straphangers continue to work on the issue in their Stand Up 4 Lowcountry Transit effort..
On Tuesday, Japan set a new rail speed record of 374 miles per hour on their experimental mag lev research line. In 1850, it was possible to travel by railroad between Charleston and Summerville faster than you can now at rush hour on I26. In two years, it may be nearly impossible to make the trip for four or more hours every day. Our region, which pioneered passenger railroad transportation for this hemisphere with the Best Friend of Charleston in 1830 is slowing to auto induced gridlock.
Mark Sanford’s proposed bill to end federal public transit funding would deprive CARTA and hundreds of other transit systems across the US of over a third of their total funding. These systems have been underfunded and neglected for decades. The North Neck CARTA bus I and a candidate for Mayor of Charleston rode on Tuesday was six years past its design life, carrying 30 people on a small bus designed for 24 seated passengers.
Sanford complains transit systems are subsidized by gas taxes, but his proposal would continue to grant cars a six billion dollar a year subsidy from general government funds. The amount now granted to transit from the transportation trust fund comes from general tax revenues much of which is paid by the half of the population which does not drive. Sanford proposes to leave 30 million transit riding Americans with about half of the inadequate service they have now while continuing to use their tax money to subsidize the automobile.
Sign our online petition against Sanford's Bill
Sanford would force the working people of his own district, who make our tourism and medical industries possible, to attempt to operate cars with their limited income. He has voted not to increase their minimum wage six times. They would face an annual six thousand dollar a year ownership cost and two thousand dollar downtown parking cost they can’t possibly afford. Many would join the 10% of drivers on our roads now who aren’t licensed or insured. For those who find automobile operation impossible, including many of our disabled and senior citizens, dangerous bicycle trips and walks home in an area plagued by one of the nation’s highest rates of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities would be their only option.
The huge dishonesty within Sanford’s justification for such callous treatment of his own constituents is his refusal to admit the huge subsidies government already provides operators of private automobiles, estimated to be over five thousand dollars per year, per car. Much road construction locally has been funded by sales taxes on goods other than gas through the half penny sales tax. Police and fire department car wreck emergency costs add to that total. In Mount Pleasant, a public works employee, whose pay, benefits and vehicle cost the town over 50 thousand dollars a year spends most of his time sweeping up broken glass and debris at the locations of car wrecks.
Were we to add on top of that the two trillion dollar cost of our military presence in the Middle East to help secure the world oil supply (which Sanford has voted to increase ), a gas tax of over 12 dollars a gallon would be required to cover the car’s full cost to society.
In a city where climate change will put Murray Boulevard on the Battery under water at high tide for several hours a day by the end of this century, we should add the infrastructure costs of walling off the historic city from the rising sea, well over half a billion dollars for one part of one city to the cost of the car.
However. the worst impact of Sanford’s shortsighted attempt to defund public transit is our Lowcountry being forced to compete in a global market for young innovative talent without transit. Charleston needs to be a place which produces software, attracts visitors with high quality cultural events and generates local employment without resorting to expensive corporate subsidies, 280 million dollars was recently appropriated to build new access roads and highway ramps for Boeing. The cost of that road project alone would be enough to build a true regional rapid transit system for entire Lowcountry like the Swift Bus Rapid Transit system Boeing workers enjoy in Washington State.
The generation now bringing innovation to the challenging economy of this century does not love the car as their grandparents did. “According to Federal Highway Administration, from 2000 to 2010, the share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.” Higher income young people are more likely to walk, bike or use transit. “From 2001 to 2009, young people (16 to 34-years-old) who lived in households with annual incomes of over $70,000 increased their use of public transit by 100 percent, biking by 122 percent, and walking by 37 percent.” http://www.uspirg.org/...
If we allow Mark Sanford and the three other members of our State’s Congressional Delegation to destroy public transit here and in the rest of the US, the Lowcountry grants a permanent competitive advantage to communities like Atlanta, New York and Portland where robust transit systems are built and operating now. These young innovators, who could be the job creators of a high tech, Charleston future, will chose to live where their time and money can be spent on something better than a car standing still on a gridlocked I26.
William Hamilton, Hungryneck Straphangers
(843) 870-5299 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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