Cross-posted courtesy of The Infrastructurist
A heartfelt thanks to readers of The Infrastructurist for submitting some terrific questions to "On the Go with Ray LaHood." As you know, the President is putting a spotlight on America's transportation infrastructure because these projects can create jobs right now and improve our nation's economic competitiveness.
Transportation leaders know this; construction leaders know this; and, based on your questions, the readers of www.infrastructurist.com know this.
As you also know, I can't answer every question submitted for "On the Go." But thanks to The Infrastructurist, I’ve got a little more room to answer some of your questions about transit, tolling, and trucks from Mexico.
Get Real asks: “Transit users are highly subsidized; why should they receive this huge level of public subsidy?”
Public transit offers one of the best returns on investment in US transportation today. In fact, for every billion dollars we invest each year, we generate well over three billion in cost-savings and other economic benefits. Millions of low-income workers with access to affordable bus and rail service can find and keep jobs, stay off public assistance, and support their families. This helps staff America's businesses. Transit reduces traffic congestion, which also helps businesses stay productive. When transit is available, the elderly can remain longer in their homes, reducing the burden of costly nursing facilities on our health insurance programs. And transit helps keep tailpipe emissions down, improving the air we breathe. Investing in transit adds value to our communities and our nation; without question, it is money well spent.
Interesting question Brandi. The federal highway system was conceived as a tax-supported system, not a toll system. Over the last few decades, however, Congress has created more opportunity for tolling, including on interstates. Although still very limited, interstate tolling has evolved as a possible option under certain conditions. In recent years, for example, we’ve seen significant interest on the part of states primarily in the area of congestion pricing, where tolls or fees fluctuate based on demand. We're in favor of providing flexibility to states to find solutions to their unique transportation needs, but it’s ultimately a state decision.
Finally, on Facebook, Mark Fornaro asks: “How will letting Mexican trucks have access to our highways benefit Americans?”
Last month, I signed an agreement with Mexico’s Secretary of Transportation to begin a cross-border, long-haul, trucking pilot program. As a result, Mexico has suspended retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of American products--99 major exports like apples, grapes, pears, potatoes, Christmas trees, and pork products. The new program emphasizes safety, security, and efficiency, and it was developed based on extensive stakeholder input. The agreement will increase our exports to Mexico, which expands job creation here at home and increases opportunities for American trucks to carry freight across our southern border. This is good for our small businesses and good for our economy.