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Panel Tells Transit Conference That Public Wants Better Rail Systems, Despite Cost

(Credit: Steve Tawa)

(Credit: Steve Tawa)

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new survey indicates that 74 percent of Americans support using tax dollars for infrastructure investment in public transportation.

The results of the poll were released today during a nationwide transportation conference taking place at a center city hotel.

Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (second from left in photo) told the transportation leaders that our transportation infrastructure once led the world with innovation, but it’s all falling apart now.

“We have this Grover Norquist-inspired, anti-spending mania,” he said, referring to the architect of Republican government-cutting programs.

But, says Rendell, there’s a difference between spending and investing.

“We have to invest money in repairing, maintaining, and expanding our infrastructure.  I think people understand that.”

Federal transit administrator Peter Rogoff (second from right) says it’s an enormous challenge because there’s a $50-billion backlog, at a minimum, just to bring the seven largest existing rail systems, including Septa, into a state of good repair.

“Our piece of that is about $5 billion,” says Septa general manager Joe Casey (far left).  “We have a turn-of-the-century system that was built by our grandfathers that is 100 years old.   We have 100 bridges that are 100 years old.”

The American Public Transportation Association, which hosted the conference, says citizens can “see and feel the economic impact” of investing in public transportation.

Rendell says if Congress funds it, people will ride it.

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