SQUANDERING THE STIMULUS: AVERAGE AMERICAN HOUSEHOLDS SPENT ECONOMIC STIMULUS ON GAS
(6/25/2008) But Congress considering near $2B help for public transportation in response to high gas costs
Without sufficient alternatives to driving, American families spent their entire economic stimulus check on high-priced gas. According to new analysis from the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, since President Bush signed the tax rebates into law on February 13th, the average household spent over $1500 filling their tanks. Gas costs were higher than average in areas without robust public transportation.
The group was joined in releasing its findings today at an event at Union Station by Director of Transportation, Michael Piscitelli who expressed the need for increased resources to support public transportation as an alternative to high gas prices.
“With the price of gas consistently increasing, we need to identify and support alternatives for our residents, public transportation being the best option. An increase in federal funding would accommodate a greater number of New Haven residents on busses and trains which is not only an important option in these difficult economic times but also coincides with New Haven’s efforts to become a greener and cleaner City,” said Mike Piscitelli. “Making public transportation more efficient and accessible not only relieves a burden from the daily commute of our residents but also supports the economic development of our City as visitors can rely on rail service to easily travel in and out of New Haven.”
According to the analysis released by CONNPIRG, since February when President Bush signed the tax rebates into law, the average cost per household for gasoline has gone from just over $60 weekly to almost $100 per week. Americans have responded to higher gas costs by taking public transportation at record rates in areas where it is available. American drivers traveled fewer miles last year for the first time in almost thirty years.
Transit agencies have struggled to keep up with the increased ridership volume. As early as tomorrow, the US House of Representatives will consider the Saving Energy through Transportation Act, a bill that would authorize close to 2 billion dollars to allow public transit agencies across the country to reduce fares and to expand services. The New Haven metro area would receive $5.3 million over two years.
“If Congress wants to do something long-term about high gas prices, it will give people more alternatives to driving,” said Jessica Roberts, CONNPIRG representative, “Unless we make it easier to drive less, American families will be stuck in neutral as they spend more and more at the pump.”
Analysis by CONNPIRG shows that public transportation created net oil savings totaling 3.4 billion gallons in 2006. This is enough to fuel 5.8 million cars for an entire year and to save about $13.6 billion in gasoline at today’s prices. Here in Connecticut, public transit saved 51.1 million gallons, the equivalent of saving $208.6 million at the pump today.
Additional CONNPIRG-released analysis, which was generated by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), also shows that neighborhoods around the country with the best access to transit spent an average of $728 monthly on all transportation costs based on 2000 Census data, including gas, insurance, upkeep, and transit fares. Households in neighborhoods with the least access to transit, by contrast, spent an average of $925 per month. http://htaindex.cnt.org
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