After being sworn in as New York's junior senator yesterday, Kirstin Gillibrand laid out several policy objectives, one of which was making sure that the final economic stimulus bill includes funding for mass transit, such as high-speed and light-rail trains. Politico calls the move "upstatey," but actually, as I reported for the print magazine in November, New York's upstate Democrats have often scuttled smart transportation plans. So Gillibrand's stance is likely to earn her some new support in New York City and its environs.
Obama's original stimulus proposal was a disappointment to transit advocates, as its infrastructure focus was on roads and schools, not rail, cycle lanes, streetcars, or express bus service. And the plan did not authorize the federal government to grant transit funds directly to cities instead of to states, where "upstatey" politicians and bureaucrats often withhold money for the most pressing urban transportation projects that would benefit the most people.
So Gillibrand is sticking her neck out here on behalf of urban concerns. That's a good thing, because today, as Streetsblog reports, the full House will vote on an amendment to add $3 billion in transit funding to the economic recovery bill.
cross-posted at TAPPED