Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Obama's DOT is out of touch with America

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were making fun of New York bank executives' recent excuse for missing a meeting in Washington due to "inclement weather" – i.e., fog at a private airport in Westchester. LaHood mentions that they could have taken Amtrak – the US government runs Amtrak, so this is to be expected – but then he says something that illustrates just how out of touch he really is: Greyhound. Who the hell takes a Greyhound bus from New York to DC as opposed to a Chinatown bus, Megabus, or Bolt Bus? I can understand your average DC legislator who's never ridden a bus in his life, but shouldn't the friggin' Secretary of Transportation realize that the cubside buses are far more popular and efficient?

I think this is symptomatic of a broader problem with the Obama administration's transportation policy: it's naive and neglected. Ray LaHood himself is a token Republican cabinet member who, by his own admission, has no particular interest in transportation. Obama's chief transportation initiative is a showy national high-speed rail system that only the rich will be able afford to ride, and yet he refuses to take even the most timid steps to combat suburban sprawl and the automobile's dominance.

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