Ben Adler has a useful piece in The Nation about how exactly the US’s stimulus money is getting directed to mass transit. Lots of new stuff is getting built, but the the stimulus funds aren’t really supplementing existing operating budgets. So, because they’re in the middle of a recession, cash-strapped municipalities are cutting services. It’s serious problem for SEPTA, the transit company in my old city, Philadelphia.

It’d be hard to overstate just how terrible it is that cities are cutting transit services right now. Because people are trying to find new ways to save money right now, and because of the price of gas, a lot of cities in the US are seeing more and more people taking public transit. When people are doing that, the last thing you want to do is cut services. You want to keep making it easier and easier for increasing numbers of people to take the bus or the subway or whatever.

For the local angle, let me add that the same logic tells in favour of paying for transit development with money from the provincial carbon tax. Just when you’re making it more expensive for people to drive their cars, you want to make it easier for them to take the train.

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