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Bipartisan Panel of Experts Call for a New Vision for American Transportation

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In a report released last week by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, a bipartisan group of renowned transportation professionals issued recommendations and a call to action for Congress and the Administration to embrace a new vision for transportation in America. President Obama referred to the report in a Monday press conference, where he discussed a $50 billion transportation infrastructure plan and a future national infrastructure bank. 

The report, "Well Within Reach: America’s New Transportation Agenda" is the product of a three-day conference where 80 experts representing a wide array of transportation interests met to strategize on how to address the challenges of our national transportation system, including chronic revenue shortfalls and underinvestment in infrastructure, and to create an agenda for enacting change.  The group was led by former Secretaries of Transportation Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner.

The objective of the meeting was “to identify a whole agenda that legislators and policy makers could refer to in crafting new policies for keeping America’s roads, skies, rails and waterways well-funded, in good-repair, and functioning with optimal efficiency and safety.” 

According to the report, our lack of a coherent vision for the future of the national transportation system and a plan for financing it leads to deferred investments and creates a costly burden for the public in terms of lost money, time and safety.

Additionally, the report emphasizes the extent to which American inattention to maintaining existing infrastructure and investing in cutting-edge technologies inhibits productivity and economic growth.

The United States lags behind its major trading partners in transportation investment as a percent of GDP – with the U.S. at 0.6 percent but Russia at 1.4 percent, central and eastern Europe at 1.3 percent, and Western Europe at 1.85 percent.

The Miller Center cites a number of studies that have shown that America’s productivity and competitiveness rely upon an efficient and high-performing transportation system.

The report includes 10 specific recommendations, including for Congress to address the immediate transportation funding crisis through increased fuel taxes, user fees and general fund transfers, and a call to work toward transitioning to a vehicle-miles-travelled fee system of transportation pricing in the future. 

Several of the Miller Center findings mirror those proposed by Transportation for America in their Blueprint for 21st Century Transportation Reform.

The report has been added to the Best Practices.

Well Within Reach: America’s New Transportation Agenda