People are struggling right now, and we at least need to give them a return on their investment through targeted measures.
We introduced an amendment that would provide flexibility and rededicate funds to transit projects that would yield a higher benefit to cost ratio.
Meaning, if taxpayers would get better value from Project B rather than Project A, that’s where the funds would be utilized.
But my colleagues rejected it and instead want to pump billions into sectors where the value isn’t there such as transit.
Let’s do the math here.
Ridership in transit is plummeting down right now, seeing a nearly 90 percent decrease. For example, Washington, D.C. is seeing a 86% decrease in ridership, New York City transit (subway) is down 70%, Boston is seeing 25% of their 2019 ridership numbers, and even San Francisco is seeing an 88% decrease in ridership on their BART system.
So far $69 billion has been allocated to the transit industry through COVID-19 relief and there are 2.8 million essential workers (law enforcement, grocers, transportation, etc.) that ride transit.
This comes out to nearly $25,000 per essential worker ($69 billion/2.8 million) or basically 1000 uber rides per worker. We might as well cut them a check for this much money.
It is not practical to keep pushing money in this direction when the ridership is down nearly 100%. If that is the case, why aren’t we spending money similarly where jobs are being lost due to government decisions? Such as the energy sectors that have been hit hard now by the recent executive orders, or turn the focus on the much-needed new bridge in Louisiana and upgrades to our infrastructure.
This is absolutely insane, and the disparity is inappropriate. If transit is the best benefit, then let the flexibility move us in that direction. Otherwise, let’s target relief to where it could be of the most use.
Rep. Garret Graves represents the 6th congressional district of Louisiana.