Yglesias brings up a good point about today’s Governor’s Association meeting in Philadelphia. Biden issued a speech laying out some reasons that we should promote public transportation, specifically rail transit. Focusing Obama’s stated desire to promote public works projects on public transportation would be incredibly smart. There are still many American cities that have sub-par transportation systems within the city and almost non-existent rail options from the ‘burbs.

Jumpstarting a massive rail construction program would kill many birds with one giant, expensive stone. It would prompt suburbanites who live outside the city to visit and spend on urban businesses and entertainment; it would provide cheap, public transportation for urban workers who live outside the city; and most importantly, it would drastically reduce the number of people who commute in personal vehicles, and thereby benefit our degraded, asthma-ridden natural environment.

Seattle is a good example of the need for more rail-centric public transportation. Within the city, it is fairly easy to get around using the bus system. But there is no rail transit besides the monorail that goes about three blocks and was created as spectacle for the World’s Fair in 1962.

But a Light Rail will be completed next year to transport people from SeaTac airport to downtown Seattle and back. I’m very glad that this is happening, but its impact will not reach its potential unless complemented by a more extensive rail program becuase traffic west into Seattle from the Eastside is awful for hours every morning and evening. And the same goes for along I-5 north of the city center. Both are areas that the Light Rail will not service.

Biden’s suggestion for developing more rail transit would help cities like Seattle develop their rail programs to benefit workers, drivers, and the environment.

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