Sunday, December 22, 2013


Oops! A decimal place error. Using Census QuickFacts–a $90 million general fund increase for transportation equals $350 per Vermont household per year or 0.6% of the median household income of $54,168. The $350 for the household cost compares, for example, to a saving from changing a solo drive to a 20-mile Link bus commute out of Burlington, about $3,500 after taxes–plus an employer saves about $600 a year for every “free” parking space no longer required for an employee.
Of course, $90 million in additional general fund revenues would include some from business and would be progressively raised by income and other sources. Are better roads, bridges, commuter and light rail, intercity rail, and a major walking and bicycling infrastructure for all downtowns and city centers–worth 99 cents a day for your household?


Vermont Digger reports the Vermont Democratic senators talking about priorities for Vermont like the State operates like a bankrupt Detroit or depressed jobless urban center.  Not nice to have a scrooge sighting reported two days before Christmas!

Vermont remains a rather low unemployment state with a high level of social services and a relatively sound financial status.  Getting caught up in austerian talk, thinking it must follow some silly yardstick which says it is not possible to add significantly to public expenditures really does not make sense.  Responded to the Vermont Digger piece this morning, in part: 

"...somehow Quebequers enjoy full nondeductible/no copay health care for all including prescriptions (also $8 a day regulated daycare services). Also, to provide the $90 million needed each year for transportation (commuter rail, intercity rail, light rail for Burlington/Rutland, walking/bicycling infrastructure statewide, increased Town Highway Grants and, yes, funding needed bridge/highway projects) costs $15 per capita per year even without fed help.  (Massachusetts did begin an allocation of about $15 per capita per year earlier this year from general funds for transportation--Vermont would not be the first.)  We do not have to choose to be public service poor, we can do so much more with public funds to support our citizens, improve our cities and towns and help both new and existing businesses. The Legislature/Governor need to stop poor-mouthing our status."

Vermont leaders looked at far bleaker conditions--for examples, Ethan Allen, and Governors like Phil Hoff, Dean Davis, Tom Salmon, Howard Dean and  Richard Snelling.  They each in their own way found a way to change the political dynamic to direct necessary resources to the challenges of the time, just as President Obama dealt with health care which most modern nations resolved over a half century ago.

The challenge today involves finishing the already pre-determined course in health care, addressing homelessness and the cost of housing and attacking the key element in energy use which involves shifting private use of the automobile to publicly supplied public transportation combined with walking and bicycling infrastructure in our downtowns, village centers and built up areas--$90 million worth of investment annually required as a first step.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued a report this week "Traffic Safety for Older People - 5 Year Plan"

which carefully sidesteps infrastructure!  Sort of the ivory tower approach to older folks safety on the highway.  "Pedestrian"s do get a little space in the 22-page paper.  But certainly is news you will never find old folks on bicycles (or apparently accessing public transit either)--or at least (whew! I was worried) are there any safety issues for these modes!  Certainly none worth planning for apparently.

Certainly this is a report that give those folks interested in safety for older folks using roundabouts and cycle track, a little chuckle for the holidays. 

Apparently infrastructure (AARP advocates intersection conversions to roundabouts for improved older citizen safety) remains a potato still too hot to take out of the oven. 

And these folks are paid with our tax dollars!