SAVING ENERGY THROUGH PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 26, 2008)
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Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the gentleman of the full committee for his outstanding work over the many years for transit. How prophetic many of his positions have been. I remember during the last reauthorization fighting to just get a tiny bit more for transit. We didn't get what we wanted and said we would need, but we did get a little more, despite a particular opposition from a number of Republican Senators.
We are loving our transit systems to death today. Americans of necessity, or with changes in life-style, are flocking onto mass transit at record rates, rates not seen in half a century in the United States of America. That's the good news.
The bad news is so many Americans are flooding onto our transit systems, the most in 50 years, that our transit systems are having to curtail service and cut routes. There is something very wrong with this picture.
At the very time that the American people are demanding an alternative because they can't afford the $4.50 a gallon for their car or they are tired of the congestion and commute, which have not yet been effectively dealt with because of our lack of investment in other infrastructure, they are turning to transit as an alternative.
But transit is confronted with, if it is a bus, a doubling of the cost of diesel. And other modes that are electrically driven have seen their energy costs go up. But beyond that, the rate of utilization, the people crushing on, are wearing the equipment out even faster and we haven't been keeping up with the replacement cycle because of the under-investment in the system.
I was talking to someone who came in from Rockville today. They said you wouldn't believe how packed it was. I said I think we are going to have to adopt the Japanese system where we hire little guys with white gloves to start pushing people onto our Metro cars, or our MAX cars in Oregon, because there are so many people who want to get on, we have to utilize what isn't enough capacity.
So this bill is the first, little, baby, incremental step to giving some assistance to those transit agencies who want to give assistance to an American public that is hurting because of failed energy policies.
I am not going to re-debate the energy policies with the gentleman from Florida, but that was an incredibly creative recapitulation of the failed energy policies of the Bush-Cheney administration over the last 6 years.
So we need now to deal with some of the results of those failures.
And we've debated other bills to help provide relief to the American consumers there. But here we have to provide relief and help to our transit agencies who are going to extend a hand to our American commuters and families. Unfortunately, this is, as yet, only a promise. It's an authorization. And the budget is a little tight around here unless you're one to fund a war with emergency funding. The President won't declare a transit emergency, I don't think. Maybe we can get him to do that. But we need to get some funding and flesh out the bones of this bill.
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