American Transportation Policy

American Transportation Policy

American Transportation Policy

American Transportation Policy

Synopsis

The author maintains that American politics, institutional arrangements, and political culture have prevented the development of a comprehensive, integrated, intermodal transportation policy in the United States. He makes his argument by examining the development of the national governmental authority in both surface and air transportation. Each transportation mode--highways/mass transit, Amtrak, and civilian air transportation--is examined separately, assessing their development over time and focusing on current controversies.

Excerpt

The American transportation system plays a central role in the American economy. It connects the country spatially, allowing people and commerce to move from place to place, through a network of over 5.5 million miles of public roads, railroads, waterways, and oil and gas pipelines and 18,770 public and private airports. More than 240 million vehicles, railcars, aircraft, ships, and recreational boats use the network. It supports over 4.5 trillion miles of passenger travel, and 4 trillion ton-miles of goods movement annually. In addition, consumer and government transportation-related expenditures ($1 trillion annually) account for over 11 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, ranking it the fourth highest activity in the economy, behind housing, health care, and food. The typical American family spends nearly $7,000 annually on transportation-related expenses, about one-fifth of total household spending. Moreover, almost 4.5 million people are employed by transportation industries, including 1.8 million by trucking and warehousing companies, 1.2 million by air transportation companies, 485,000 by public transit operators, 435,00 by transportation service companies, 223,000 by rail transportation companies, 205,000 by water transportation companies, and 14,000 by pipeline companies. Several million more are employed in industries that supply transportation-related goods and services. Overall, transportation accounts for approximately 13 percent of all jobs in the United States.

The American transportation system has an enormous effect on both the national economy and American society. The sociological effects resulting from increased mobility are immense. Age-old customs and family traditions have been shattered by improvements in the nation's transportation system. Individual family members are more likely than ever before to be separated geographically and are less likely to be rooted in any one community or way of life. The interstate highway

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