Big fixes for our big transportation problems

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Robert Puentes suggests several big changes that could boost the economy and improve transportation decision-making:

Encourage collaboration between the federal government, states, metro areas, and shippers and develop a comprehensive plan to improve the flow of freight. Currently, along with the competition between private freight carriers and ports, states and metropolitan areas compete against one another for freight.

Government should treat all modes equally. Currently, transit projects are subject to a much more rigorous bureaucratic process and receive more meager federal contributions than highway projects, creating an incentive for highway projects that may not be the best solution to our economic and social problems.

Government incentives will speed transportation innovation. New technologies, such as electronic toll-collection tags or dynamic signs that reroute traffic around traffic jams, can yield huge savings from safety and reduced congestion as well as spurring growth among companies that design and produce them. We need to reward innovation and efficiency in transportation at all levels of government.

Focus on connecting workers with work. Low income households depend on transit to get to jobs but, while many low income residential areas are served by transit, available transit services often fail to provide adequate access to employment.

Without a more comprehensive approach to transportation at the national, state, and local levels, getting our transportation system to where it needs to be may not be possible.