April 7, 2011

7 Keys to Understanding Mass Transit Impact – and Value

Posted in role of government, taxes, U.S. Economy, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:32 am by realitytax

DC Streetcar study1) It’s not just bus and light-rail

Streetcars play an increasing role, as the DC Streetcar Land-Use Study documents, and for good reason. The upfront costs are lower than light-rail, while businesses (and commercial real estate values) react much more vigorously than they do to bus rapid transit (BRT) proposals.

2) Return on Investment is Reliable, Investors React

In terms of taxpayers dollars, the Goody Clancy DC study found “streetcar offers a better ratio of benefits to costs compared to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Transit. While BRT is less expensive to implement, it does not generate the real estate investments to the same degree that streetcars can.” In other words, with a lower implementation cost than light rail that stability and predictability is what businesses and property owners like. Long-term, they know the traffic patterns and support for use are reliable.

3) Urban Rail Transportation Stimulates Economic Development

With so many elected officials trying to create jobs and reverse shrinkage of tax revenues, studies on the light rail projects in Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver reveal more benefits than just the immediate job creation from the construction projects, there’s lots of other new real estate development, too, including especially housing when the lines are well-sited.

4) Transit Is Not an “either/or” Choice

Some state legislatures are leery of the investment as they look at funding for the repair and maintenance of existing roads, highways, and bridges. Yet a new (or better) Transit system reduces wear, freeing up more money and reducing infrastructure maintenance costs in transportation budgets.

5) If Highways Are the Answer We’d All Move to L.A.

I don’t want to decry development in Southern California, but the smog and traffic jams are legendary. Most developed areas don’t have the land to give up for more highways, toll-roads are far from a free solution even though they shift the maintenance costs, and most communities favor fewer big roads as the cost to our environment and impact on our quality of life becomes more evident.

3) It’s Efficient

Max busIt’s a simple fact, person-throughput is increased when a greater share of travelers in any given transportation corridor are riding rather than driving. Risks shrink, quality of life blossoms, and systems that mitigate commuter congestion coincidentally result in revitalized commercial and retail growth – again, because business investors recognize and gravitate to the predictable. While there are pitfalls to be avoided, there are numerous studies that show what’s working and what hasn’t; the data is real, so re-inventing the wheel isn’t the first step.

7) If You Build It, They Will Come

When you consider areas such as the Pearl district of Portland it’s obvious why that city is always high on lists of desirable places to live; urban development was phenomenal, and some estimates suggest streetcar ridership is 7 times higher than a bus alternative would be. Either way, it spurred billions of dollars in development projects, which translates into jobs and other tax revenues for the city – and isn’t that what every state or local government needs?

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October 16, 2008

Can somebody explain McCain’s goals and priorities?

Posted in 2008 debate, 2008 Elections, foreclosure crisis, health care, John McCain's campaign, mortgage reform, Presidential campaign, Senator Barack H. Obama, senior citizens, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:11 pm by realitytax

I don’t understand McCain’s priorities or his rationales. Maybe he’s never heard of insurance companies controlling medical procedures and limiting access to prescriptions – he’s got better coverage than I do, certainly. After watching the final Presidential debate of 2008 I can’t see how most senior citizens in the U.S.A. can afford McCain’s policies; he voted against much needed-increases in Medicare funding, taking away many seniors’ only access to health care.  He thinks the health care system is working just fine.

Senator McCain evidently has a different view of Social Security than I do. McCain wants to privatizes Social Security, as Bush had championed, so we’re all dependent on the vagaries of the stock market. We’ve seen the downside of that risky approach.  McCain, who championed deregulation in the stock markets, thinks the health care insurance industry should be similarly allowed to regulate itself. He asserts that will improve our health care without getting bureaucrats in the way, but he wants government bureaucrats to ride to the rescue of 11 million homes with bad mortgage deals, armed with $300 billion from the bailout plan. Am I the only one who sees a disconnect?

Turmoil in financial markets threatens – if not undermines – our retirement savings. Coupled to rising costs for everything from health care to energy, senior citizens and others on fixed incomes are looking for a leader who will use the office of the Presidency to improve our financial security via fiscally sound,  robust economic policies.  Yet McCain wants to deal with health care reform by granting insurance companies the latitude that banks used to crash the stock market?

Obama-Biden spokesman Bill Burton called on McCain to support Obama’s New Small Business Rescue Plan, saying:

Barack Obama supports allowing senior citizens to delay withdrawals from 401(k)s, and believes we don’t have to wait for Congress to act to provide seniors with these protections. He’s calling on the Treasury Secretary to temporarily suspend Treasury regulations and allow seniors to delay these withdrawals. He also hopes that Senator McCain will reconsider his ill-advised support for Social Security privatization, which suffers from the very same problem he is now trying to solve since it would potentially force seniors to retire when the market is down and their retirement accounts have disappeared. Senator Obama also calls on Senator McCain to support his new small business rescue plan that will extend badly-needed credit and tax relief to the men and women who are creating jobs in this troubled economy.

Senator Obama has a plan to help America’s senior citizens. Barack Obama and Senator Biden intend to protect Social Security and make sure Americans can afford to retire. The Obama-Biden proposals will expand retirement savings program and create new pension programs. Obama’s plan will eliminate income tax altogether for seniors who make less than $50,000 per year.

The Obama-Biden plan will protect and strengthen Medicare, and allow the federal government to negotiate for cheaper drugs for the Medicare program, so seniors can afford their pills. Obama will also increase funding for LIHEAP, to help seniors pay their winter heating bills.  I get that McCain wants to win, that he seeks the prestige of being President after years of service in the U.S. Congress, but I prefer the vision Obama and Biden have expressed – their ambition to use the influence of the White House to make changes that foster financial security and bolster national pride while positioning the U.S.A as a leader on issues ranging from energy and the environment to fundamental human rights.

McCain’s a fine man, and I’m sure he’d be an adequate President for those who are so wealthy that taxes are a theoretical number handled for them by an accountant that never impact their daily spending decisions.  The rest of us – the folks on Main Street who are still waiting for Bush’s economic policies to trickle down some personal economic prosperity or to create some jobs – will be better off under the inspired leadership of “that one.”