Putting transit where the people are — the Federal New Starts program

Last month, more than 160 members of Congress said they would support getting rid of federal New Starts funding to save money.

New Starts is a program that provides metro areas help to build large transit projects that otherwise would be difficult, if impossible, to pay for themselves. The program, in fact, helped pay for the existing Red/Purple Lines subway, the Eastside Gold Line and is poised to help pay for the Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector.

Is this really a program we want to get rid of?

Not coincidentally, most Americans — more than 75 percent — live in urban areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, according to the Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, more than 56 percent of Americans live in the top 50 metro areas.

The following map below breaks down the distribution of Americans living in urban areas by state:

Even under the Census Bureau’s relatively loose definition of an urban area (which may include areas some would dismiss as the distant suburbs or, in layman’s terms, the boonies), most of America’s urbanites are concentrated in a relatively small quantity of space, according to this map:

Map showing urban areas and urban clusters of the contiguous United States. Source: Wikipedia user Phizzy.

This, perhaps, underscores the curiosity factor that led to the creation of the following map, which shows the location of the seven recently funded New Starts projects. Click on the red dots to learn more about the project:

At this point it seems likely that New Starts will survive, because there’s not enough votes to get rid of it. Our point is this: New Starts is putting taxpayer money where the majority of taxpayers live — in big cities and metro areas.

Categories: Transportation News

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