Transportation: The Beating Heart of Commerce
The Federal government spends $64 Billion on transportation, and that is a small part of what is spent by states and local municipalities.
The problem is that these dollars are reactive: they fix what is already in place and failing, or are used to build new local roads for new developments. The questions is: is this the right way to spend our dollars? As available land for new roads or even expanding existing highways diminishes, the costs of building them skyrocket, leaving people, goods and merchandise stuck waiting for grid lock to budge.
For businesses, transportation is vital: it speeds products to market, gets employees to key sales and networking meetings, expands channels for new product lines and much more. Expanded public transportation is a win-win that ‘only’ takes energized public and private initiatives to find and fund new ideas.
In this issue we also link the pressures of climate change and the opportunities in new transportation. It has been the policy of this magazine not to use the term ‘climate change’ because it has been a red flag for many US businesses. But the times — and opinions — are changing. A recent ACORE (American Council on Renewable Energy) poll showed that well over 50% of businesses in the West and, more important, the Midwest, believe that climate change is a threat to their business.
Transportation is an important piece of mitigating climate change. Public transit is a much more efficient way to move people and products, and is much less energy intensive. Public transport could replace the jobs for road engineers and maintenance, while re-energizing an industry in rail cars, right-of-ways and services. However, the greater benefits of improving our transportation infrastructure comes from adapting to the changing needs of business for higher trained and more educated employees, who increasingly live in our greater urban areas. Imagine being able to commute from Boston to Washington DC in four hours, or San Francisco to Los Angeles in three. As for cost, the EPA estimates that for every $1 invested, Americans would reap $7 in health benefits, while avoiding up to 6,000 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks.
As businesses begin to see the writing on the wall, they will be a prime mover in the transition to more energy productivity, lowered costs of energy generation, cleaner air and water, better commutes, and faster product delivery. For those that sit on the fence, there’s a lovely buggy whip franchise waiting for a new CEO.
A Tana Kantor