File this one under "Hypocritical, conservative/libertarian." First, the Heritage Foundation thinks that some estimates under-represented the actual number of protesters who showed up in DC last weekend to tell Congress just how angry they are about having to pay taxes and stuff. "Metro delivers hundreds of thousands to 9/12 rally," Heritage proclaims, citing the number of people who rode DC's subway system to the National Mall-nearly half a million people!
Heritage's assertion struck me as a bit odd, especially considering the fact that Heritage loves to tell us that no one really rides transit in this country and that we'd be better off just building more roads. Lucky for the protesters, though, that people with more sense made the decision to build a wonderfully efficient mass transit system in DC. Otherwise, I'm not sure that any type of road network could have handled the crowd.
Hopefully the protesters learned that our highly productive urban centers need robust mass transit systems. Indeed, mass transit allows our urban centers to be even more productive. If mass transit service was discontinued in our urban areas it would result in 646 million hours of delay and the consumption of 398 million more gallons of fuel, all at a cost of $13.7 billion.
Sadly, the federal government has chronically under-funded the nation's vital public transit systems, leading to continuous budget crises and service cuts. In order to properly fund transit we need... yes, taxes and stuff.
But incredibly, the same people that rode Metro to the National Mall to protest taxes and government spending were upset about Metro's level of service. "These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration," wrote Texas Representative Kevin Brady. A spokesman for Brady commented that "there weren't enough cars and there weren't enough trains."
What! Maybe we could provide more transit service if those in Congress, especially transit-hating Republicans, provided more funding for transit. Oh, I forgot. We shouldn't invest in transit because no one rides transit.