Resource Proposal #1 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Soc

Name of Resource and Citation: 

Rotker, K. (2007). Transportation: Regional equity & environmental justice. (). Washington: Poverty & Race Research Action Council. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210339531?accountid=9784

Topic for Paper: Regional Equity and Environmental Justice from mass transit spending

Your proposal.

Every year millions of dollars are spent on transportation infrastructure, but mainly on highways and ignoring public transportation. This piece presents the case in Minneapolis where a bridge on an interstate highway collapsed during rush hour, which spurred up conversation about increasing government spending on infrastructure. The boost in infrastructure was focused around the maintenance and expansion of highways and buildings. This then takes away from the spending on public transportation as it is pushed aside.

As mass transit started to lag behind further each year, it affects the poor and communities of color who rely on public transportation as a means of getting around. The current infrastructure policy would be considered discriminatory as it indirectly limits the mobility of particular groups of individuals. Large percentages of minority groups, African American, Latinos, and Asians, live in households without vehicles and many of them need public transportation to get to work. This reaffirms the disregard in governmental policy for low-income individuals and communities of color. It makes me start to question the government’s “hidden agenda” and motives in promoting particular policies over others. Government led strategies in economic development hold forms of discrimination, which perpetuates a cycle of poverty for minority groups.

Examples like Los Angeles and Milwaukee have challenged their city for the survival of their transit system. There has been a growing number between the majority and minority where they need more money to maintain their public transportation, but the government saw an overwhelmingly move to the white suburbs. This clearly displays the level of disparity in auto ownership and drivers between low-income communities and minority residents who live in the predominantly white residents suburban counties. Based on census data, Milwaukee’s central city reside low-income individuals who are far more likely to rely on public transportation compared to suburban residents. Milwaukee has been steadily decrease transit funding and far increase, which puts strand on low-income individuals. There have been legislators that want to spend more than $6.25 billion on highway reconstruction and widening. The increase in spending on highways can lead to negative effects of our society from “high levels of ozone pollution, suburban sprawl that leave inner-city neighborhoods behind, the refusal to provide affordable housing in the suburbs, and the lack of transit connections to jobs in developing areas-hurt city residents” (Rotker, 2007).

There has been movement in civil law, like Title VI of 1964 Civil Rights Act, to increase the awareness and importance of tackling these issues politically. There has been use Title Via and federal Orders on Environmental Justice to advocate for change equity in transit projects and affordable housing in suburban areas (Rotker, 2007). The greater issues associated with mass transit funding has led to more environment degradation and affecting individual health in the long run. The change in investment of mass transit like buses and subways/light rails, it will provide a better infrastructure for a larger population at a lower cost and provide opportunities of economic growth for all.

This seems like a good resource.  I had not thought of the way that budget cycles and federal and state levels can recreate or exacerbate urban, race, and class differences (and the overlaps of these).  I wonder if historical data would further show the real value of public transport relative to road expenditures.  There is also a “dark side” of democracy here, I think in the sense that politicians are pushing for what their constituents what, right?  More roads?  Shorter commutes?  So, if they are delivering what their voters want, is that “bad”?  Do we need some authoritarian power in the hands of transit planning to break the cycle?  

Also, I think if you look at some of the work on family budgets of poorer people, you will see that personal transport is a much m roe sizable chunk as a proportion.  Moreover, jobs they can get are often at expensive distances relative to affordable housing.

Resource Proposal #2 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Gov

Name of Resource and Citation:

Utt, R. (2011, February 11). Time to End Obama’s Costly High-Speed Rail Program. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/02/time-to-end-obamas-costly-high-speed-rail-program

Topic for Paper: Obama’s High speed rail program needs to be ened

Your proposal.

If we looked back on past history of other places implementing plans of mass transit, there have been some fails like Europe. The execution of Obama’s high-speed rail (HSR) program is spending hundreds of billions of dollars in federal and state funds to provide mediocre passenger rail service to an extremely small amount of travelers. Their goal was to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. This seems like a great plan to provide access to better mass transit systems, but it seems like based on past experience in Europe, which has not been as successful.

As Europeans adopt more of an American lifestyle, where we rely far more on a car as our main mode of transportation. From the findings of the European Commission, where it declined from 6.6% in 1995 to 6.3% in 2008 and it is believed that Obama’s program will fail because the people in the US already act and behave in this particular manner that Europeans have adopted. The US is roughly portioning $54.8 billions from the US government and spent on all forms of transportation, such as highways, rail, water transportation, and mass transit. So there is question and speculation regarding financial catastrophes. There has been some push back from the Midwest resulting in cancelation of those routes due to newly elected governors in Ohio and Wisconsin. They have returned $1.3 billion federal HSR grants back to the US Treasury along with California’s budget crisis that has an estimated cost between $42 billion and $80 billion to complete hindering them from state investment in the HSR systems.

Obama has been persistent and proposing a “system to serve the ‘urbanized’ population.” This project is pretty ambitious where federal subsidies can undermine the existing systems in place. Obama’s agenda from the start has been to develop HSR in the US, but more financial problems are arising meaning that they may run into come trouble. Another huge point is that there are much more to take into consideration during policy making other than the main goal of building a HSR system.

Other setbacks from the program were that Americans preferred to live in the 21th century and not the late 19th. There was also a lack of support from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) where they would be spending more than half of the $8 billions HSR grants on for-profit railroads to benefit existing services like the Amtrak. It is suggested that Congress should put an end to this problem and recover any funds towards more useful things like deficit reduction. With the lack of pull from “the few” who use railways are going to cause rail ticket prices to be relatively high still. The rail transit is expensive to build, operate and maintain making it an economically unsustainable program. There have been efforts by the US to build better mass transit systems in our country, but there are high levels of setback due to a change in the status quo.

Resource Proposal #3 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Biz

Name of Resource and Citation:

MBTA, & MassDOT. (2014, March 12). Capital Investment Program. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About_the_T/Financials/FINAL FY15-19 MBTA Capital Investment Program.pdf

Topic for Paper: MBTA Capital Investment Program

Your proposal.

This past year, the large snowstorms in the Northeast presented some negative impacts on the daily lives of individuals living in the Boston Metro area. The snowstorms negatively affected the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA & MassDOT) urban transportation infrastructure which resulting in the affecting the daily lives of people who use these transit systems on a daily basis. The storm led to many days of halted and delayed service. I had family and friends who were affected by this, where they got to work late and affected their daily commutes. Many individuals who live in the Boston metro area as well as people who live in the suburbs utilize the MBTA as a main form of transportation. This then brought to light the lack of investment MBTA has had on their urban transportation systems and infrastructure. This finally brought to light the lack of investment MBTA had on the maintenance of their infrastructure and vehicles. MBTA is now in pursuit of a “State of Good Repair” (SGR) to maintain and place existing infrastructure allowing Boston’s urban transportation to be functioning at their ideal capacity within their design life (MBTA & MassDOT, p.9).

MBTA takes a look at three different criteria in where they will judge it by greatest benefit and least cost. These are the top things on a list of factors that need to be taken into account:

  1. Impact on the Environment/Alignment to GreenDOT (promoting sustainability in the transportation sector) Objectives
  2. System Preservation
  3. Financial Considerations
  4. Operations Impact
  5. Legal Commitments

MBTA’s higher investment in their urban transportation systems has received high priority to repair and maintain the MBTA vehicles and infrastructure. The have invested more money into projects about the procurement of MBTA vehicles, tracks, signals, and systems. This will lead to innovations in power and various operations improvements. The upgrades and innovation will be essential to rebuilding a more reliable operation of the urban transportation in Massachusetts. Also they will invest more in energy conservation programs where have low energy heating elements for the rails. So with greater investment in these making the mass transit system more accessible and reliable for people will help maintain and grow the local economy. This can also result in less halt delays in services especially during the wintertime.

MBTA believes that through this improvement it will unlock economic growth in the Commonwealth area as it involves the expansion of the current MBTA system. The expansion of the public transportation is a way to provide access to more individuals. Also the infrastructure expands, it will cast out a larger net for people who may not have their own private mode of transportation and relied on other measures. This can spur economic development because it will help individuals who do not have the proper transportation get to work as well as allow others to visit other parts of Massachusetts.


These are all good for your old topic…  I didn’t comment as you told me you are changing topic.


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