SPENDING : Federal transit funds need scrutiny

The federal government recently allotted another $3.7 billion in assistance for public transit systems.

This is in addition to billions of dollars earmarked for public transportation in the infrastructure bill, according to an Associated Press article.

We can only hope that the money is carefully monitored and that the long-term viability of each and every public transportation system is a factor in the spending.

We have nothing against buses, trains and subways — we all have friends and family who have benefited from investments in public transportation — but public transportation needs, ideally, to be self-sustaining. If not, it should be locally funded by regional authorities with revenue from the populations that benefit.

The United States is expected to have a budget deficit of $1.15 trillion in 2022 — that’s just what the U.S. will spend over what it sees in revenues for this current year. We have a federal debt, according to Forbes.com, greater than $30 trillion.

And we have a lot of competing interests that will make reducing that deficit and that debt very difficult. Think about tax relief for middle-class families, tax relief for businesses that create jobs, a defense budget that needs to account for all that interventionists in both parties ask of our military, programs to assist struggling families, grant programs to better train and equip police with the resources to be their most effective — the list goes on and on.

We should be skeptical of any risk that public transportation will become, year in and year out, another heavily subsidized competing interest for our federal resources. Careful monitoring of this batch of billions of dollars — with an eye specifically toward getting public transit systems but on a self-sustaining model — is one important step to prevent that outcome.


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