tv Cato Institute Hosts Discussion on Infrastructure Spending CSPAN March 7, 2017 12:54am-2:22am EST
when it is his turn. thanks for all of you coming today. infrastructure in is a priority for the new and ministration. president trump has called for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. we don't know what that means $1 trillion of federal government spending or the plan put together by hisis pfizer's that call for the tax credit for newman vestment of infrastructure prescribe not a fan of either approach so i hope they're open to different ideas. everyone agrees america needs to reprove the efficiency of the infrastructure investment trump has talked about deregulation as a way to reduce the cost and must boost to of highway building
to get better highways.that the main reform fe have proceeded is privatize edition of public-private partnerships and has spent three decades she privatize the met the launching a global mw restaurant now half of europe's airports are private donald trump has called them third-world. what will he do about that? and with those free-form transix and there is some factor is the tale letters. we will discuss with
infrastructure reforms of and highways and live barred heavily from all speakers today but then we would get going after introduce our speakers. the research fellow at thehe het one but for many years was the go to a guy for problems on infrastructure igo back he h here look at what ron has said to make sure a mother right track. with the reagan administration from a seven and has the pc from universal -- indiana university.
up nexus senior fellow at the competitive and enterprise institute to talk about transportation safety of privatization and innovation such as automated vehicles. one riding setter current to the crucial debate over reform that would be a big topic of discussion this year. and the third speaker is the assistant director of transportation policy have reason foundation and result capital hill handling transportation issues and the cleanup speaker will be randal o'toole and has
written tons of books and studies on those topics over the years. did they help to disport focal tauruses and that has been a crucial to debunking the fairytale of the lights rail system with the city after city across the united states. so the speaker will talk for about 10 minutes then we can have time for q&a. thanks for coming. >> things for that kind introduction also inviting me to be here today. this this uninteresting time to talk about infrastructure . it was partly through the electoral campaign when hillary clinton announced
she was in favor of half a trillion dollarr infrastructure spending proposal she believed would create jobs to get to the american economy moving again. one week later kennedy trump announced seeing is in favor of a $1 trillion infrastructure plan since that day there has not been much detail provided some readers still guessing but this gives us a chance to do some recommending because announcing you have the infrastructure plan what you do and set off an america and globally for that matter , is a huge money scramble and it has already started. the national governors' association has provided the white house with over 400
shovelled ready projects totaling $120 billion. this senator schumer has come mount with the opposition plan that you wouldn't suspect the is partially oriented toward his constituency that more and more are coming through our buddy wants to get. but warned of the faintest but to encourage the private sector to be more involved with interest to him and presumably the operation.becaus
one is otherwise assyria v and then to overproduce to create a nasty cycle but with the public infrastructure it is rarely have the deficiencies cow by shortages bridges that are technically obsolete and this is where a lot of people talk about the infrastructure and it is or is it of socialism because all things other problematic that don't lend themselves to easy solutions are publicly owned. and all things in the
private sector reid make that distinction clear as will look forward to policies with the huge money scramble how will we make decisions about these projects but members of the house of threatening but i think there will be a free-for-all because congress was to be a part of the action as. so the real rescue so if you start to but to rationalize
entire state, a congestion mitigation is one of six factors considered. all measures are quantitative and mitigation must predominate in major areas and the factors by region. the program is now called smart scale and the six measures are safety, congestion andnd public visibility visibility, environmental quality, economic development and land use coordination. and since all parts of the states are different is divided into foreword different regions.
in category a which includes only 38 metropolitan areas in the state, hampton roads roads, washington d.c. and fredericksburg that is part of the agenda at this point and congestion mitigation accounts for 45% of the score for particular projects. so that must predominate then the other factors take over the end of it congestion counts for nothing because there have of problem.ea but the reason is to hold all regions harmless in terms of the money they get from the stay because what happens is if you talk about congestion mitigation to the world legislators and
officials they say you ship the money to northern virginia to allow their state money to the particular needs and their community. but each of those factors the accessibility access to jobs that is the most critical part for the disadvantaged and mobile choices and air quality and energy economic development section intermodal access and and reliability but this but those were revitalized to cover the next six years and includes transeven.
and look forward to questions. >> thanks to chris for moderating bible talk as what was alluded to be issued to apparently findion of $1 trillion of the infrastructure projects over the next 10 years from both parties. i was talk about getting the most bang for the vat to shift the cost and project risk away from the taxpayer.spe we heard speaker rhine and leader mcconnell will say that that trillion dollars be would not be $1 trillion of new federal spending the the two areas is financing reform and regulatory reform
and with respect to financing the difference with financing and funding with the private sector partners enter the credit markets to use debt financing to construct these infrastructure projects somehow when i go to the public-private partnership it does shift risk away from the taxpayer but one problem to increase private sector involvement is on the public side they could access tax-free municipal bonds while they do not generally enjoy a vat tax it granted to the ideal solution is to level financing andtax is t
eliminate that exemption so that is unrealistic so the second best solution is to refinance for public-private partnerships and we already have private activity bonds highway bill reauthorization that allows the private sector to bargain in a way similar to the public sector but there is a lifetime cap of $15 billion and as of jan yuri 23rd the federal highway administration and for what has already been allocated so for congress to greatly increase financingt capa that cabbies to be raised substantially and there is a solution that will potentially expand asset
class eligibility the projects that eligible to receive right now it is limited to a transportation projects. but we already have been example with the head that past demonstration that had a proposal to create a qualified public infrastructure bonn to expand eligible projects into airports four-door waste-water systems to uncap the issue of and eliminate the expiration date. if the goal is private sector investment in the near term a framework should be created between the public and private sector. another area of financing reform is the
reauthorization bill to modernize the passenger facility charge and helps to reduce the taxpayer burden it is capped at $40.50 butha has not been changed since 2000 that is half of the buying power many airports are approaching the debt limit so if we were to modernize the pfc to eliminate that cap allowing them to raise the charge the revenues could be used to back the bond that that is it they would be shut out of large airports have said
they're willing to give up the federal program grantsortuna but fortunately last week we saw legislation up peter defazio and a republican member of the committee and their bill will i am going we su to go abroad dawn but we should do but then i will not give some specifics. many of you know, rather
than specifying then and the airport -- appearance that has been for many years but despite attempts to move away from the safety regulations. the agency's and to have the few examples. but those higher performancese space they're telling you how to design your airbags but they're giving you a threshold but the automakers can decide how to meet that standard with whenever technology they want. in contrast to a mother has been efforts want to move
that approach to allow the introduction of new technologies to unimproved the design that while they were developing that proposal and it also proposed a rule to require a minimum two person crew that cuts against ongoing efforts that railroads install positive train control technology that is a sweetsu of communications and one of the business benefits that is cited in the best -- the same way we move toward self driving cars there's no reason. >> but this was clearly political and those rules that don't allow the but tovi
specific rules to be withdrawn from us the vehicle to vehicle communications proposal to specify a specific technology to warn drivers of hazards. the problem is, does not allow alternative compliance for technology and basically ignores the rise of automation you can actually have a computer directly avoid these collisions rather than just having a hazard warning whether it is tactile feedback for a driver.ds to led to person and crew rule makes no sense and should be withdrawn and final example would-be the service transfer station board proposed reciprocal switching change. what they did basically you
had free to railroads word deregulated, you had a standard that required a showing of any competitive conduct on the part of the railroad for the surfaceically e transportation board to force railroads to interchange each other's traffic now over 30 years there have been no evidence of any anti-competitive conduct so the solution was to simply eliminate the requirement to allow to arbitrarily imposed the switching arrangements as back door price controlsastructu this is another example of agencies going in the wrong direction while simultaneously to go in a performance based direction. finally president trump in his joint session to
congress address, add did tout private financing which i thought was good although there were no specifics but at least he was talking about it. one thing it did trouble me is one of the two principles to guide his plan is the by america provision. this is a mistake will be does the driver of the costs of infrastructure projects we have seen this play out with the stimulus under obama use solid due to theso buy america provisions you see the cost increase. >> this is exactly the
to speak on this fund topic. the first two presentations focused on ideas that we should be doing in things that would be good to move us forward with this is a proposal introduced in congress that passed the transportation committee it is the best chance to do something big over the next few years. is a little different so i will go over that to and i can answer the questions at the end. so i just want to provide a presentation outline why i think this is a chance for meaningful reform what is currently wrong with the current air traffic control system others say it istm wonderful. you don't need to do
anything that is not true.every what it will lead salt flats and some examples of what we have now howl atc wouldd solve those problems. with a chance of meaningful reform there is things with infrastructure so for example, of blocking federal barriers to private services transportation and investments there are quitetr a few barriers there's a lot of surface transportation solutions if you make easiercone every time i see a slide people said the problem is we don't have enoughth opportunities. no. the problem is we have laws that prevent those from being taken vantage of. to rebuild a full blown negative airports is different but that goes topo the comment of the new york
airports and how they are decrepit and could be betterinka and tinkered jean waterway reconstruction is another issue that would be interesting and it air-traffic control reform cannot but and i think it is the most significant of these challenges that this comm. the timing is right we have support from political leaders that president and us chairman schuster mere not on the record as of yetr' but the thing takes on the right to obviously the airlines are very important
talking about air-traffic control with no air travel having them on board is important when i say unexpected places i thought if we have support it would be a slam dunk but politically it is more challenging the air-traffic thes controllers union and the pilots' association and the reason is uh current situation leads the of open to government shutdowns which means they don't get paid even though they are part of the union the uncertainty has gotten so bad with the current system they are like please get me something else even if they have to give up the union protections. what is the main problem?
to make the faa designed around that principle. they're hesitant to embrace major changes including updating the aviation system they shin be using rich information to pet chasing will locust because of that technology and upgrades over 50 years they can now get to a more robust system. gps automates air-traffic control that more capacity is now having to build up process.e is serving their rule airports will losing yet to
maintain. but is not open to those stations that best time but working for the government does not give you a chance for a new have to do theof same thing for your career and that is not real attractive to the more educated in a sophisticated those coming into market right now. the third problem is the
focus that aviation customers or the passengers. so how does this actually solve the problem? this separates the air traffic organization from the rest of the agency so we've just been off that part of a the faa to bring into guidance with recommendations every developed your first world country has some form of separating from the safety regulator. , every first for a developed country whetherar here or europe or canada has separated these agencies because they recognize it does not belong. we the only one that has not done this to be separated in different ways, noted corporate nonprofit also paraded.
the majority of the privatized system and the best example in is it canadahap but if you look at the overall system however hast or costs this seems like a good system although there are some similarities. how does it explain funding? it is a big question because there previously was not a revenue title of that could not be identified or a sticking point for some issues. it will shift user taxes and so those user tactics the problem with this in is that the pro creators necessarily
want us to provide full funding. sometimes they will hold that back because they think they know what is best. interesting. a few years ago there is a whole thing of senators getting over the district than magically they did certain things for aviation but in theory there is not funding with a government shutdown could be averted. the charges by the customers would go more to the user pay and benefit system by also the canada institute strongly supports and to the utility customers the receipt direct link for how much the airline or the general aviation, and that particular operator pays and gets in return which is not something we see right now.olita
and provides day governance board in for some reason there is controversy they think it is made up of only of the airline's. the board is made up of airports, employees the public but not all the airlines all members of the travelling public so the board is the one setting of policies not a politician or an interest group or whoever happens to draw the of long straw so i just want to briefly summarize for of theen corporate is asian solves those problems faa is a
government agency rale the progression ary principle to have air-traffic control that requires technologyms technology, innovation, new thinking to be moved into a separate entity. with has trouble attracting talent they could have a different base structure, less rigid restrictions:more of the creative culture that is important to looking for top talent. politicians run the faa this corporation would have an independent board of users of those actually understand aviation and the problems the support issues growing u but not everybody is of board said to mention these opponents they are strongly
opposed and it is interesting. some of the users are classified as commercial some are classified as not commercial. in this particular instance the commercial users would pay more and non-commercial would not even the with the classification is stupid but it would take me 10 minutes to go into but they are users of the aerospace. full% overall of the aviation or 20 percent of the users of the york city now is the major market and have a leap congested and so ourd opinion is they should paid regardless of the type of aircraft business jet say we don't like commercial and we say everybody should pay a curr user pay system.
my friends that delta airlines previously opposed but now they're becoming more neutral day quick to t the airlines for america of a group over this issue now they're trying to make peace previously and there were opposed because they were concerned there would be losing out with a government affairs group to influence politicians they like that idea. under with the news ceo we will see where that goes and there is some opposition has been labeled the privatization with some union issues although wasn't even thinking but.
spending but we don't think it would be better if you are a republican in theni district you don't want to increase spending so we look to omb to see what we can do on vat -- on that. [applause] >> i was supposed to talk about transit but i will start talking about my favorite subjects which is autonomous ourselves driving cars. one of first carted talking about them 80 years ago people thought it was science fiction no gold was nice enough to send one to the headquarters to take people on rides even more than last dog is the ceo of ford. >> as as significant impact on decide the as it did from
100 years ago that is why today we are announcing for the tab to have a high volume level for fully a thomas vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 for right share service. for will be mass producing vehicles with full autonomy in five years. that means no steering wheel , and a gas pedal or brake pedal and of course, a driver is not required. >> imagine that will totally revolutionize everything about transportation to make a big difference for transit and roads we. what texas special ever structure will autonomous vehicles need?
partially economist drive sometimes and then you could take over another sore folia autonomous with those steering wheel or other controls. what type of infrastructure? they will not need any new infrastructure at all but just the the existing infrastructure kept in good condition. smart highways that the obama demonstration wanted to fund is already obsolete all of the intelligence will be in the cars themselves we will not need an electronic infrastructure to guide them around.it would to have the projection hell long it will be before we start to see the cars perlf crybaby optimistic but i think we could buy a car to drive itself with the interior for years then you
could buy a kit maybe $1,000 to take the of late model car and convert. 2021 for the full time shared so driving car. he said is available for car sharing not purchased by 2025 vat to could buy them but then by 2013 roughly half will be sold driving and 2040 we will talk about closing highways to the human driven cars because human drivers are so dangerous.ment is so we need to maintain the infrastructure and filled up offals with consistent sign it like detours i'm not sure a self driving car would understand which means turn left but it they will use
existing infrastructure. what about transit? they will have a huge impact on transit and my argument is that will be totally obsolete long before the purple line is borne out. look at the cost of driving right now american spend $1 trillion per year on automobiles and drive to .7 trillion miles per year which is $0.40 a mile. on average one and two-thirds person per car $0.25 per passenger mile. transit fares cover around to yr to devices per passenger mile because they try to compete with the automobile. if you don't have a car or
ford and has a self driving car and you can call up ubersidt or tea 20 if it is snowing or reading to you really want to walk to the transit station when you can push a button to have a car, she adored to pick you up to take you to wear you want to go? if there is to view it is cheaper than transit. you can imagine with those types of alternate is available light rail trains and buses will be a lot emptier than today if you add in subsidies the pitcher changes even more. 2015 we spent $73 billion subsidizing highways.
that is only 2.$0.6 per passenger mile but the cost is even lower by comparison the operations and maintenance if is $0.41 to $1.6 per passenger mile.n so looking at ryder shipped to say why are we spending all of this money subsidizing transit would be to put people insult driving cars with vouchers to don't have healing. what does the implications behalf for building this say really congested area but
self driving cars could reduce the need for building new infrastructure because the cars can operate closer together most is caused by slow human reflexes cars to leave act faster if cut -- put more cars on the road trucka with a new infrastructure and knees to be built on user fees not general funds at all. we be a public-privateed partnership and there is a certain kind that is usedf genea called the demand risk partnership the private partnership with the money collects the user fees to pay back the cost and theat public takes no risk at all guess what? infrastructure operatedy
privately tends to be better maintained it is operated publicly with user fees to be better maintained so for example, the state highways are operated out of user fees and local roads are operated from general funds so the percentage that are actually structurally deficient with that decline est. bridges and co-starred uh disproportionate and that is our local bridges and
then to be better manage. similarly to have hugean infrastructure problems and no agency eastern to the public-private partnerships such as the commuter rail line that opened up last year but it is the different kind to have the availability payment to borrow the money it doesn't matter if anybody rides the train or fanfare is collected to pay $5 million per month so relieved did is
says if the partner developed the money bet the agency did not like to exceed the debt limit. there are two problems. but the cost goes way up. so the very first modern light rail line built in 1980 and with today's dollars in cost $15 million per mile today it isyou get 163 million and those that our more expensive. seattle completed one los angeles and today the million dollars per mile. infrat global laugh carry any more
men in 1980 but because youme not worried about a profit just to spend wildly we cannot maintain that is the second problem. the washington metro system is falling apart been not just washington but chicago transit authority, boston, philadelp hia.ose buses to us serious infrastructure problems relying on tax dollars in nobody pays to maintain. in to put up tax dollars for those rail systems that use tremendous amounts of money
this is the way that moves more than 250 buses and our in it can hold 200 passengers fled this can move more people per hour than the washington subway system so there are rails they can substitute with far less expensive and with uh new bus line in the rail lines go in 20 or 30 the bus line have the huge cost overrun.
did tell them to make sure they're never congested itch doesn't ever get caught inre congestion and recant do with rail lines. and then to go to salt lake city but there is a white stripe painted between them. and bent to say the toll paying vehicles. the fed infrastructure can be cheap cheap, effected as and flexible than don self training cars spending a lot of money on rails and other.
>> with the diversity ofof ideas and topics is extraordinary been made me think what ties all of these things together did is the federal government has said huge power over all these technologies by a transportation even though urban transit this city operations because of federal government for those modes of transportation and the federal government aidam. to determine with those regulations that come with the aid related to safety and economic returns in the
the george bush did registration and a supporter of public-privateme partnerships in tune take days trip to canada. her father on the shipping business so has been in the transportation area from a business perspective to understand those problems that our inherent so they have been pretty good getting folks involved in so far so good.
. . e local governments get they're share, when i drive on a local road versus state highway. the money goings to the owner of the road rather than the state. i see this as vest positive and looking understand to seeing it adopted nationwide. think it will be transitioned in, where state might say, all new cars have to use this
system, and old cars can still use the existing gas tax system for so many years. >> to speak to some of the specific legal barriers, we have a prohibit base on states tolling their own interset segments with a limit exemption for a tiny pilot program. think as randall said, these barriers set by congress would need to be eliminated before we can see expansion of tolling and if you want to see more private investment in public-profit toll roads financing reform is key. so it's up to congress. >> down front here. >> i'm a total novice. i kept thinking how to tell the story so that general public
could understand it. it's unbelievably complicate but we have to start educate thing public so they get behind these ideas and just don't assume because it's coming from cato it's right wing and we don't like it. heard a lot of good ideas here but most people don't understand it and i would beg you to put it into visual charts to sort of show what the changes would be and the compared so what chart. it's just a suggestion. >> i think that's a very good suggestion. maybe in the second row, down front here. >> ann stone. i have a question about any advice you have to get the transportation industry to accept new technologies. for example, you talk about redoing bridges and rooted. there are materialed that are better than concrete and asphalt
that are out there now and we're not using it. something was invented to philpotholes in minnesota and i think in kentucky, and the filler is so effective the road crumbled around and it the potholes remain. why deposit that die the entire road out of it? the bridges, the using concrete fish catch on fire, burn, melt. there are materials that can be built that are fireproof. how do we get the government to look at these new technologies so that if we're going rebuild the infrastructure we do it smart and we don't do it stupid. >> i think starting -- we need to start with procurement reform and requiring open procurement and competitive bidding. a lot of these problems while there are many the federal and state level with the procurement rules, really go down to the
local level where you have municipal engineers who have been doing the same thing for 20 years, have relationship with the specific suppliers and you see this across the entire -- not just for transportation and infrastructure but notorious in the water and wastewater sector. so i think open procurement, competitive bidding, start there and then see what happens. >> i think we're more private ownership would also be helpful because the problem you have in procurement process is the local bidder wins. and that's not to say they're necessarily cheating anybody but in fact there's an incentive to use less expensive material and the materials you're talking about are more expensive but last longer but nobody cares about that the bidding process. ow obligated to finish the product to certain standard's and doesn't mary if it lasts ten years or 30 years.
you're a private owner you have a great incentive to use the material that last 30s years. so you have a system now that has no internal incentives to adopt technology because the technologies are more expensive, and in the public sector, there's no way to capture that gain. >> this is one of the wildly discussedded a involves public privatepaster inships like the company that buildings and manage this capital beltway. they're responsible -- they designed, built and will operate for the long term so they have an insend tonight -- incentive to use materials and procedure that minimize their long-term cost. back down over here. >> hi. i'm art with the american public transportation association. thank you for an invitation to be here.
the comment on private sector participation. that it is indeed a good things' references were method about place inside transit, particularly where there is a private sector that -- the denver project on the cusp of the purple line. florida, texas, passenger rail projects and even beyond that mitchell question is, it really a straight question for an answer. is there a appreciation that not all projects might be private sector, that many will be, but some are not going to quite work under that model? that has been discussion and some congressional hearings. it's not going to be for everything. i accept that point of view. just wonder if the basketball views it that way or not. >> i rule give you my view. i'm for diversity and federallallism. think the problem is that because so much federal money and top-down regulatory authority is involved here, we're not given the states
enough chance to go their own diverse ways itch don't know what the best solution for all of the different cities you mentioned are but i would like state and local government to be making decisions without the distorsion -- distortion that federal mandates create. >> time a rail newed and i love trains and i ride amtrak a lot. i'm going from oregon to here, a four-day trip. once was open to that idea but the more i look at urban transit the more i realized once you open to the door to saying, okay week in going worry about making a profit, not going worry about covering ariose costs. the washington metro system they said fares will cover 100% of operating costs and 80% of capital costs. then 50% of the capital costs and then capital cost.
opposite you open the door, gets more and more expensive and bloated. you build things you shouldn't have belt in the third place, because they were just too expensive, and there has to be a line, and i think if the line is, got be able to cover its own costs, whether it's public or private, care less about that than about l it's going to cover its own costs out of the fees paid by the people who are using it. maybe we ought to have another session and we can debate that. >> i would say we have this discussion internally, and to be perhaps a tad controversial, if there are truly areas people of need that can't be served in the private market, maybe we would be open to looking at that and how it could -- some sort of public funding. the challenge is right now it seems like a lot of rail
projects, and some bus projects, are being build -- built for choice rider and the transit dependent ridered that do not have a car, don't have transportation any other way, if we're providing some sort of government funding, especially federal but local and state, that should be our priority, and i don't think it is right now. so i guess -- in theory i think you raise a good point, at least in my mind but we need reforms how we're doing it currently. >> maybe down front here. >> thank you very much. i live in china part of the year. i've taken the chinese high speed trains. i've been taking the high speed train in france. this country seems to be a natural for high speed trains. huge, distances are huge. why aren't we emphasizing that? what is the problem of not making new york an hour from
here or from miami to washington, like shanghai to beijing in five hours. that would take a tremendous load off the rooted and off the highways also. what is the problem. a political problem, money problem? what is the problem. >> thank you. >> the problem is we had this new invention called airplanes. they go faster than high speed trains, they're keeper than high speed trained, they don't require a heck of a lot of extremely precisely maintained infrastructure, so they're cheaper to maintain than high speed trains. california in 1995, an economist estimated that it would cost $10 billion to build a high speed train from los angeles to san francisco, and at that coster, he said high speed trains would -- it would cost more to move a passenger from los angeles to francisco by car or plane. today the projected cost is
$100 billion. there's no way that is going to be competitive with flying. flying -- longs has five airports, san francisco has four. you can supply from an airport to where you -- near where you thrive where you want to go. this high speed trains go downtown to don't. that's fine if your downtown but only eight percent of americans live or work downtown anymore. so, that's not going to be convenient for 92% of americans. high-speed trains are a natural solution for tokyo to osaka. the rest of the world, france, spain, have gone tens of billions of dollars in debt because of them, and they're not providing satisfactory transportation in those areas. >> two quick points. there's been numerous sore in the "wall street journal" about what boondoggle a lot of the chinese infrastructure projects, including high speed trains are.
randall has an excellent essay on exactly those issues that you raise. >> man down the middle here. >> -- extremely interesting but because this is not my topic, digital technology and a lot of data but in all the -- the cost i see in that environmental costs included any calculations and it's a very -- a lot of question. do we have numbers whether, for example, massive increase in autonomous car environment'llly less costly than trains or planes. >> the environmental impact. >> we do have a lot of numbers on that and what we know is that
with 85% of all our travel is by car, and maybe one percent of travel is by rail. counting both urban rail and intercity rail. probably less than one percent. if we could double that rail, rail uses maybe 20% less energy than cars and maybe emits 20% less pollution that is cars. maybe. a lot of rail system does worse but with could trouble rail we would be reducing pollution emissions by a fraction of a percent. it's much more effective to go for that 85% and try to get more people to drive priuses or electric cars or something like that. only have to get a small percentage of people to change there and you get large, large changes. we know that works because in 1970, you couldn't see across town because air pollution was so thick in the united states. maybe not quite as bad at beijing is today but i think in
some cities it was as bad as beijing is today and we tried a two-pronged approach to fix it. we made cars cleaner and tried to get people on to transit. in 1970 the average american road transit 50 times a year and we have spent a half trillion dollars improving transit and today the average american rides it 40 time as year. that didn't work. so, on the other hand, making cars cleaner works. today we only have less than ten percent as much pollution being meted by- -- emitted by all cars as being emid net 1970 and each car is emitting less pollution because more miles are being driven today than in 1970. >> maybe two more questions. down front here maybe. >> always good to see you, mr. o'toole, and you have such
great visuals to support your ideas ideas and initiatives and i love your tie itch want to ask you what is your observation of d.c.? you spend a lot of time in oregon, portland, i assume. what is your observation of what could be done better in the showcase, the national's capital which hosted the inauguration. there's some problems right in front of union station, for instance, cosmetic. as you across the crosswalks of mad avenue you can see there's a aegregious negligence the restoration of the asphalt. the fountains. the federal areas could use some work. what is your thoughts how to better showcase the nation's cap and whether this is a federal issue or city issue. >> i thinking this is definitely a local issue and the federal government has distorted the system too much to make the
locals behave rationally. for example, the h3 street car costs 1 been million. and it's essentially providing zero transportation function. and it's such a failure they want to expand it. they want to build more. right? portland has built i think more miles of street car lines than anybody else and want to build 140 miles. the city off portland has 5,000 miles of streets and those 5,000 miles of streets are in desperate need of repair, over half of them are in poor or very poor condition, and the cost of 140 miles of street cars would be more than paving every single one of those 5,000 miles of streets. i haven't done the numbers for washington, dc but i wouldn't be surprise it if the street car, grandiose secrete -- streetcar plans are more than the cost of paving every street in washington, dc if the metro system is an embarrassment.
when i first came to washington a couple years after it was build it was likeberg 2001, space odyssey when you go into a station. tied out like entering into blade runner and it's because that's settled only a technology that was too expensive that we can't afford to maintain weapon need to start thinking about using different technologies that we can afford rather than what we thought were 2001 technologies but when in fact were 1901 technologies. >> okay. least question down front here. >> there hasn't been much mention of the nonmotor rised mode. walking, bicycling. anybody having in anything about those? >> well, actually bicycle more than i drive in the summer anyway.
i used to do it year-around. and i think bicycles can be compatible with cars but it's clear that a lot of people don't feel comfortable cycling and need to have separation. there are cheap ways to do that, like take a major arterial and find a street that is parallel to it that isn't major at all and turn it into what is called bicycle boulevard that means minimize the number of stop signs and stop lights the bicyclists on the street have to deal with, and put a few little chicanes and barriers to keep cars from using it as a through street but card. it's been tried and berkly and other place don't have to penal millions of dollars a mile on special bike lanes. but you have to spend money -- i think a tax on bicycle tires would be a good thing.
they wear out fairly fast, and they wear out according to how much you bicycle and so if you tax the tires, you can raise some more know. er people bicycle, more tax they pay, theman you race and then biffleist -- bicyclist can say they're pairing paying a share. >> i'm generally skeptical of the federal role in transportation but if we are going to have a federal role in transportation, i think the projects that are funded or financed ought to be nationally significant. i don't think there's really a way to make that argument for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. those are entirely local issues but die have no problem with cities deciding to put in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. i just don't think there's a federal role there. >> all right.