In a speech at the American Institute of Transportation and Technology (AIT) on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Bruce Kesselman touted a number of programs aimed at getting the nation’s roads and rail networks back on track.
While he touted the importance of investments in new technology to address congestion, he also suggested that the next wave of transportation challenges will involve a combination of new technology, more stringent regulation and more aggressive policing.
In particular, Kesselmans comments suggested a need for a much-needed overhaul of the nations transport infrastructure.
Kesselmens talk was preceded by the news that Amtrak will likely not receive federal funding for its trains.
The announcement came after several days of heated public debate, and comes after the White House announced plans to cut billions of dollars from the Department of Transportation, including $6.5 billion for a highway program that has become an ongoing target of Republicans in Congress.
But the announcement of Amtrak’s cancellation was a welcome one for many.
“I’m glad to hear that we’re getting a break on Amtrak,” said Sarah Kasten, a transportation policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
“But the other big piece is the idea of moving towards a more aggressive police and enforcement model.”
For decades, the United States has relied on its public transportation systems to provide services to thousands of thousands of people a day.
But in recent years, that has shifted to buses, trains and ferries.
“It’s been a model of overregulation, of relying on people to make decisions for themselves,” said Kastel, who is also director of the Transportation Policy Institute at the Brookings Institution.
In the past few years, some of those policies have been met with backlash, and in February, the Department for Transportation (DOT) released a report that criticized the model for being inefficient and overly burdensome.
In a new report, the institute argued that the federal government should invest more in public transportation, and it urged Congress to establish a federal transportation planning agency, a move that would have the effect of expanding the federal highway program, which would provide more funding for highway infrastructure.
“If we want to get to a new era where we have the kind of transportation that we need, we’re going to have to move beyond that model,” Kastelman said.
Kastellmans comments echo those made by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also cited the need to focus on the need for stricter regulations.
The DOT’s report also noted that there were many more new problems facing the nation than just traffic.
“As the number of new problems mounts, the question is, How can we get the most bang for the buck?
How can the public benefit from the investments we make in our transportation infrastructure?”
The agency has said that it would continue to support federal investments in public transit, but said that “new transportation infrastructure investments are needed.”
The DOT also said that the funding would be provided through a formula that would determine how much federal funds would be invested in new transportation projects.
“This formula will focus on investments that are needed, not on investments the public is willing to support,” the DOT said in a statement.
Kostelman also criticized a number other federal programs.
For example, he said that $5 billion in federal money for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was being cut.
He added that he hoped Congress would extend the federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides money to states for road projects.
That’s something that Chao, the DOT’s top transportation official, has advocated for, saying that she thinks that the highway trust fund is important.
But Kesselma’s remarks also highlighted the need of an increase in state funding for roads.
“We’ve got to get this back on a path of states providing more funding to their transportation infrastructure and that will also help reduce the need [for new transportation infrastructure],” Kastela said.
“When it comes to transportation, states should not be funding projects that are unnecessary and costly.”
AIT President and CEO Tom O’Donnell said that he agrees with Kessels comments, but also that more money for states could be an effective way to fund infrastructure improvements.
“That’s where I would like to see more state funding,” O’Donn said.
But he added that the DOT report didn’t make clear what that funding should be.
“What’s missing from the report is how we should allocate those federal funds to be used for transportation projects,” O-Donnell said.
O’Deo said that his organization has also called for a more ambitious transportation plan.
“There’s been too little investment in infrastructure over the past decade,” Odell said.
He cited studies that found that the U.S. had a serious transportation problem that needs to be addressed.
“And the more that we do not invest in infrastructure, the more we will have to deal with traffic and the consequences of that