Tuesday, January 29, 2008

POLITICS - Post your questions for the Presidential debates

Submit your questions here and vote for those which others have submitted:

I will follow with the questions I have already posed...

Our road, rail, sea, and air transport systems are at and over capacity. How do you plan to address the looming transportation funding crises in the short-term (noting the pending expiration of SAFETEA-LU), and what long-term strategies do you propose to reduce our demand or increase our supply of transportation capabilities?

Our present development patterns tend to involve signifant suburban growth at the cost of rural and urban regions. One side calls this the will of the free market, stating that such growth is beneficial in that it utilizes a surplus of land area to provide goods and services at reduced cost. Another side deems this unsustainable "sprawl" and argues that such development increases the cost of goods and services due to the increased demand on infrastructure. What side do you believe is more akin to your own viewpoint, and how would you intend to further your cause; or, alternatively, to reconcile the two arguments?

To receive federal funding, transportation projects are generally required to examine potential ridership based on existing data which is grown to the build-out year. Now consider a transportation line which is proposed to travel through a blighted urban area where population density is presently low, but redevelopment potential is high. This potential for redevelopment cannot be easily considered in ridership estimates, which can limit the project's viability and hence leave the area blighted.

In a similar sense, what if a transit line is planned to extend into a presently undeveloped region. Developers and the transit agency are willing to coordinate development around this new line -- a modern "streetcar suburb". This could target growth onto a more sustainable system, but ridership estimates for federal funding would likely result in a declined application.

On the one hand, such refusal to accept coordination between transportation and land use may run counter to a sustainable culture: forcing us to build new lines with limited development options. On the other hand, Alaska's recent attempt to build the Gravina Island Bridge to provide access to developable land raised significant concerns about pork spending. Do you believe greater emphasis is necessary on transportation and land use coordination? If not, why not? If so, how do you propose to improve such coordination whilst ensuring that federal funds are not over-dispersed (draining available funds) or given to projects with a limited potential to succeed?

Our current transportation investments result in skewed travel relationships. I can fly from Baltimore-Washington to Boston for less than it costs me to ride AMTRAK -- a transportation with a reduced environmental footprint and a mode which is not particularly likely to be directly involved in an event on par with 9/11. It cost me twice as much to travel on a mode that takes twice the time. Our subsidies toward roadways -- particularly parking -- has similarly resulted in a mode of transportation which, while convenient in that it provides direct point-to-point travel -- is extremely demanding on the environment and our energy needs. Clearly, I do not believe the status quo is adequate. Do you concur, and if so: how would you propose to adjust the public financing of various transportation modes? If you disagree with my viewpoint, how would you propose to maintain AMTRAK's competitiveness versus alternate modes such as road and air?

This question relates to the amount of transportation modes available to commuters -- disregarding freight. Do you believe it best to provide a single mode of transportation or a multimodal system? Consider that a single mode could provide for increased funding targeted toward capacity and operation improvements, and a multimodal system would involve distributed funding -- where each mode is not as capable as it could be if it were the sole mode; but the commuter has options available to choose from. The single mode system is, in general, similar to our present state: dependent upon the personal automobile. If you choose a single mode system, what mode of transportation would you choose to emphasize?