The Tortured Logic of the Heritage Foundation on Public Transportation

Over the years, the Heritage Foundation has tried, and consistently failed to offer their warped logic why we should all abandon transit and crawl back in our cars -- powered, not so coincidentally, by the very same oil industry that funds their "research". The Center for American Progress just released a point-by-point expose on their faulty logic and their extremist ideas for dismantling all support for public transportation. Read the entire summary here.

Heritage claim #1: “The reasons for funding transit were to offer mobility to low-income citizens in metropolitan areas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, and relieve traffic congestion. Yet transit has failed in all of these areas despite billions of dollars in subsidies over the past few decades.”

The reality: Heritage claims that transit funding has failed in all three areas: low-income mobility, pollution, and congestion. This is demonstrably false. First, public transportation offers essential mobility to millions of low-income residents, providing crucial access to jobs, education, and health care, among other services. A 2007 national survey by the American Public Transportation Association found that 35 percent of all transit riders had household incomes that were approximately half the national median household income. Sixty-five percent of riders reported incomes of less than $49,999 (in 2004 dollars), which was slightly higher than the median income at the time. Transit more than fulfills its goal of providing essential mobility to low-income and working families.

Heritage claim #2: “Transit is inherently local, not national, in nature, and it would be more appropriately funded at the local or regional level.”

The reality: The federal-aid highway program provides support for all public roadways functionally classified as anything higher than a rural minor collector or a local road. And while interstate highways tend to receive the most policy attention, they represent less than 5 percent of the total federal-aid highway network. The vast majority of the federal-aid network is designed to serve inherently local driving.

Heritage claim #3: “Motorists in Montana or Texas should not have to see the gas tax dollars they send to Washington diverted to buses and subways, when they expect to see it spent on road and bridge improvements.”

The reality: This claim implies that taxpayers in Montana and Texas export their tax dollars for transit projects in distant cities while receiving nothing themselves. This assertion is wrong for two reasons. First, every state receives transit funding each year. In fiscal year 2014, Montana and Texas received $19.4 million and $628 million in transit funding, respectively. States also receive a substantial highway apportionment for road and bridge work. In FY 2014, Montana and Texas received $396 million and $3.3 billion for highway and bridge projects, respectively.

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