We've been pretty adamant here that we don't support any new funding for our current transportation system -- despite its terminal decline -- until we have deep, structural reform of how transportation money is collected and spent. In my January 18 post The Classic Case, I concluded with the following:
Our goal should not be to "get projects built" but to have a transportation funding system that makes our people, cities, states and country stronger. While I agree that new transportation funding is needed (you can read my ebook on the subject), new funding without significant reform is worse than no funding at all. We need to continue to oppose all of these funding efforts until serious reform is on the table.
In addition to the powerful example in that post, we've continued to provide example after example of how our current funding approach is doing more harm than good, most recently Nate Hood's piece on a little city's third multi-million dollar interchange and my piece yesterday on efforts to expand one lonely stroad. We could do stuff like every day and never run out of material.
There have been a number of you that have pushed back on this approach along political lines. I'll summarize that argument as follows: Chuck, while I agree with you in principle, you are rather naive in your thinking. The way government reforms is to spend more money and spend it on the things you want more of. Shifting spending from roads to other investments (transit, bike, ped) is way harder, politically, than expanding spending and giving what you want even more. If you hold out for sweeping reform, you will get nothing.
I have responded to that, and will again if need be, but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Can the type of reform we are seeking -- better feedback loops, spending that has a positive return-on-investment, more incremental investments, chaotic but smart, etc.... -- come about best by expanding the pie or starving the beast?
Is compromise just a part of reform we should accept or would we be better off letting the unsustainable parts of our system implode so we can put our efforts where they will do the most good?
The floor is yours.