The 'Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act' was introduced recently by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA). The bill may bring new funding to expand access to public transportation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) transportation is responsible for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions in the United States and approximately 70 percent of domestic oil consumption. If funded and enacted, APTA states, the bill's plan for transportation will help improve transit service throughout the country and implement other important strategies.
APTA further cites that "transit use last year prevented the release of more than 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of electricity consumption by 4.9 million households. The bill would also create a competitive multi-modal program to fund transportation projects identified by new regional and state planning efforts to reduce vehicular emissions. This program could advance significant projects such as light-rail systems, bus-rapid-transit (BRT) installations, and subway extensions that improve land-use, spur private investment and significantly reduce transportation-related emissions in metropolitan areas."
I guess I'm not surprised that Metro's board gave General Manager John Catoe an extension of his contract. It seems to me that the same thing happened several years ago when Richard White, the GM at the time, was given a big raise and an extension of his contract by a board that wanted to "show its support" for him. Shouldn't the board be doing a lot more to hold management accountable for what is going on at Metro? I realize that the system is under funded (even though the rail side of the equation had been operating at near-capacity until the crash) but that is just one of many excuses for the system's problems.
The issue is that so many problems and deficiencies have been delayed or outright glossed over. If a federal agency tells Metro that the system has some problems that need attention then it would seem that the system should take care of those first and foremost. If a manager within Metro doesn't take care of an issue that has been brought to their attention by the feds then that manager doesn't understand her responsibility and needs to be replaced. If the board is getting in front of microphones and cameras and telling the public how wonderful things are and how ideal the GM is and how much confidence they have in the face of all of this adversity, then maybe they should find another way to fill their Thursday mornings. The riding public no longer believes them and is showing it by finding other ways to get around.
In a city where Marion Barry can keep getting reelected time and time again despite whatever legal or tax issue is hanging over his head is it any surprise that City Council member Jim Graham would be allowed to continue overseeing the city's taxicab industry from his position as chair of the public works and transportation committee? I picture one of those Warner Brothers cartoons where the foxes are going through shift change at the hen house and punching their timecards as they come and go.
While he has not been accused of personal involvement it was Jim Graham's chief of staff who was accused of taking bribes to help steer taxi legislation through the council. Most cities would say that somebody in Graham's position was too close to what was happening and would move that responsibility elsewhere. Not in DC though. You practically have to carry the severed head of a family member through the chambers on a Monday afternoon to get people to rethink your elected or delegated position.
On a related issue I find it interesting that during the debate about adding meters to cabs in the District so many cabbies said that they would lose money. Yet it appears that a number of them were willing to bribe people to get their hack licenses.
Steve Eldridge is a long-time reporter, observer and commentator on the Washington region's transportation issues. You can contact him directly by writing to: Steve@SprawlandCrawl.com. Unless otherwise requested, letters or portions of letters can be used within future columns. Letter writers will be identified by their first name and city/neighborhood.