United States has one of the worst public transport system in the developed world. And we will change that beginning right here in Wisconsin.
Some time back I visited Europe with my family. We toured Great Britain and Germany amongst other places. In Britain anywhere you go, even a small university town like Oxford, you could go from point A to point B, and then to point C via public transport. We did not hire a car, did not need a car, and never hired a taxi. We had the same experience in Germany.
Over here I cannot even go the grocery store without my car. It is high time we changed that.
A robust public or mass transport system has several advantages. Firstly, it leads to decrease fuel in consumption –mass transport is car pooling several times over. Decrease in fuel consumption in turn decreases need to import fossil fuels, decreases the amount of dollars we send overseas, improves our trade balance, and thus improves our GDP. Secondly, decrease in fuel demand leads to decease in fuel prices, as result of which families are left with more dollars to spend on non-fuel items, which expands our economy. Economic growth leads to higher tax revenue, better state finances, more money for essential services such as law enforcement and education, and so on. Further, decreased need for individual travel decreases fuel-based pollution (we can debate all we want about global warming but there is no question automobile exhaust is a pollutant and toxic –otherwise it never would be concern as a potential suicide mechanism). Decrease in air pollution results in decrease in related health problems, particularly respiratory problems. Lastly, a mass transport system is an economic stimulus in itself, creating and sustaining jobs.
The creation of a robust mass transport system in the United States is overdue. We need to create the Eisenhower correlate of public transport, if you will, beginning with the big cities. We also need a cultural change. As Americans we are simply not tuned to use public transport. It is a catch-22 –if public transport is not easily accessible, few use it, it does not make profit, it further declines and faces budget cuts, has fewer resources to function efficiently –thus even less people use it and so on.
As Governor, one of my tasks will be to promote an economy stimulating, job creating, mass transport system. Where it exists we need to expand it, where it does not we need to create it. If the Europeans can sustain it, have done so for years, so can we.