Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention,
Guest moderator Margaret Heckler has just called
the meeting to order. Mrs. Heckler is a Republican Congress-woman
representing the 10th district of Massachusetts.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to
Faneuil Hall and to The Advocates. It is my pleasure to be taking the place
of the regular moderator, Mr. Michael Dukakis, who appears tonight as an
advocate for the proposal. On trial tonight is the multibillion dollar
highway trust fund, and specifically, our question is this: "Should half the
federal dollars reserved for the construction of highways be diverted to
mass transit?" Advocate Michael Dukakis says yes.
The automobile is choking our cities, ripping up
our neighborhoods, polluting our air, and in New York City, today, traffic
moves more slowly than it did in 1900. It's time to end this nonsense. It's
time to give the states and metropolitan areas of this nation the right to
use their share or part of their share of the federal highway dollar for the
mass transportation systems they desperately need.
Advocate Eric Julber says no.
The proponents of mass rail transit are well
meaning. But we expect to show you that the so-called benefits of mass
transit are a myth. And certainly there should be no invasion of highway
trust funds, which is the money that you and I pay for our highways when we
buy each gallon of gas. Keep an open mind on the question until you hear our
side, and we think you will vote no.
Thank you, gentlemen. We will be back to you for
your cases in just a moment, but first, a word of background on tonight's
The object of our debate tonight is the some five billion
dollars annually that pours into the highway trust fund. The highway trust
fund was created in 1956, a pool of dollars drawn from the federal
four-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline sold to car and truck owners, to be used
for the sole purpose of constructing a national system of interstate
Today, nearly 80 percent of the interstate system has been
completed. But while construction of the interstate highway system has gone
ahead joining cities and states in a burgeoning 34,000-mile network of fast
superhighways, federal support for mass transit for the large urban areas
has remained at a relatively low level.
And in the last few years, there has been increasing
pressure in the Congress for the diversion of some of the highway trust fund
dollars to mass transportation systems for our congested cities. In the last
session of Congress, a proposal to divert some of the trust fund money to
urban mass transit was passed in the Senate but died in the House. Early in
this session, new proposals will be made to divert moneys from the highway
trust fund. Tonight, we will consider one such proposal. Under it, a state
would be permitted, at its option, to use up to one-half of its share of
highway revenue for the construction of mass transit systems. Mr. Dukakis,
why should Congress enact this proposal?
If a man from Mars suddenly descended to Earth and
hovered over one of our typical urban expressways at five in the afternoon,
he would think we had gone mad.
(On Tape) O.K. The traffic situation here on the Mystic
Bridge is solid traffic now, still from the Chelsea end right over here to
the Charlestown end. I see lots of congestion over there at the Sumner
Tunnel, too. It's not going to let up for quite some time. It's backed up
way back to the airport onramp. The end of 93 up there looks pretty good,
and the traffic situation going on the artery - I don't see any delays
there. When I was last on the expressway, it was heavy and slow and solid to
just about the Quincy-Milton line, and it continued all the way down to
Neponset Circle. Again, up by Columbia Road through the Mass. Ave. onramp,
plenty of congestion at those two points. Joe Green for the 'BZ copter.
Do we have to endure this nightmare forever? More
and more people, residents of suburbs and cities alike, are saying, “No."
Happiness is not a new car or another new highway. In 1963 the people of San
Francisco simply stopped the Embarcadero Freeway which would have ruined
that city's historic waterfront. In 1971, Ontario called a halt to the
Spadina Expressway, which would have ripped through an attractive Toronto
neighborhood. And here in Massachusetts, Interstate 93, now connected to
Boston's central expressway, remains closed because that central expressway
is already so jammed that it cannot handle the new traffic. And the Governor
of Massachusetts, who is with us tonight, has banned all future interstate
highways in metropolitan Boston. Well, what's the answer?
(On Tape) The answer is easy if you can plan a new
community like Disneyworld in Florida. Silent electric trains, running on an
elevated guideway, connect the parking lots with the recreation areas and
the hotels. Eight trains carry nearly 9000 passengers per hour in
air-conditioned comfort. Convenient? Can you imagine getting off a clean,
pollution-free train in the lobby of your hotel?
But rapid transit is possible even in highly urbanized
areas like San Francisco Bay where BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, opened
last September. BART will eventually have 34 stations and link three
counties with 75 miles of track. Computers keep track of the trains, control
their speed and the safe space between them. And for convenience, machines
automatically deduct fares from pre-paid magnetically encoded tickets. If
your credit card has run out, the machine tells you how much you owe. The
stations are clean and cheerful with mosaics, fountains, and sculptures. And
where a road would tear a community apart, BART goes over it, and the right
of way is landscaped and made into an attractive park.
Ontario, Canada, has also made a big commitment to rapid
transit, to' link the communities of metropolitan Toronto by elevated
guideways. By running on existing highway or power line rights of way, they
will prevent costly land acquisition and community disruption. Three
companies have submitted proposals for a demonstration project at the
Canadian National Exhibition. Trains of the British-based Hawker Siddeley
firm run silently on rubber tires propelled by magnetic induction motors.
The Ford Motor Company test cars are similar, rubber tires, electromagnetic
power, horizontal rubber tires on the guideway. Krauss-Maffei of Munich,
Germany, has an entry which is supported, guided, switched, and propelled,
by frictionless magnetic force. There is not a moving part in either the
track or the vehicle.
And so, our proposal tonight is very simple. We
say that the states should have the option of using gasoline tax money,
which is now earmarked solely for highway purposes, for mass transit. And to
tell us why, I present a distinguished American, Mr. Stewart Udall.
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Udall.
Glad to be with you.
Mr. Udall was a member of Congress from Arizona
and for eight years was the Secretary of the Interior under both Presidents
Kennedy and Johnson. Mr. Udall, you were a Congressman in 1956 and voted for
the Interstate Highway Act. How do you feel about that vote now?
Well, you know, Congressman Wright and I were
classmates, and this was the first, I think, really big piece of legislation
in our first term was enacted. Looking back, this is hindsight, of course, I
voted for it, I think that I made a mistake. I think that it was one of the
big blunders of the 1950's. Not that I don't think we needed a basic trunk
interstate highway system to connect the main urban areas, but I think we
put all of our eggs in the automobile basket; and that was the
Did that original proposal which was before you
contemplate running urban expressways through cities or around them?
Well, as I recall it, the discussion initially, when
the act was written, was on the system between cities; and I think it was
later amendments that decided to thrust the interstate highways through the
main urban areas of the country.
And I think that was another big mistake.
What should we have done? What would you do now
with the benefit of hindsight.
Well, I think, looking back, and this is all
hindsight, that what we needed in the 1950's was a national transportation
policy. And I think that we needed a national transportation fund. The idea
of earmarking moneys and saying this will be used only for highways, this
meant that we went down the wrong road. We should have given attention to
our railway systems, mass transit, bicycle paths, the whole works, and have
that kind of balanced flexible system, letting the states and the cities
decide essentially how they wanted to use their money.
We're very conscious today, perhaps more than we
were back in 1956, Mr. Udall, of environmental problems. Is the automobile,
in your opinion, a major contributor to those problems.
Well, I don't think there's any question in my mind.
If you ask me to single out the one most destructive thing on the American
environment, it's the automobile. The pollution of most of our cities, the
automobile is the main contributor. It and its highway system have
squandered our land. The noise problem that's rising in most cities is
primarily automobile. And certainly, it's been wasteful all the way a-round.
And I would add the final factor. We thought that this was going to reduce
the number of automobile deaths. It hasn't. And I think that's part of the
Some people say…
Last question, please.
…that we can solve this problem with air pollution
devices, better land use control, and so on. What do you say to those kinds
Well, we're not going to do it that way because the
energy crisis is real. It's upon us. We're running out of oil in this
country. We're going to have to limit the number of automobiles in the next
five years, I believe, if we face up to the real facts. And so, I think the
energy crisis is going to dictate that we stop building more highways,
finish the system, and put our money now in mass transit and other forms of
Thanks, Mr. Udall.
Mr. Julber, the witness is yours.
Thank you. Mr. Udall, did you ever stop to think
that mass transit is actually cause of congestion? Take, for example, New
York. The subway system, which is the best in the country, has made it
possible for New York to build itself up to what, I'm sure you'll agree, is
an insane density of people. Millions of people on that little island. They
could never have done that without that subway system. If you hadn't had the
subway system, New York would have a normal density of your hometown of
Tucson, Arizona. Couldn't New York have solved its problem by not getting
that dense, by not having mass transit?
Well, of course, what you're saying is that sprawl,
let's say, Los Angeles-type sprawl, you're from L.A., is better than
density. I think we're running out of land in this country, of land that's
prime land for cities; and we're finding already that one of the big
mistakes we've made is sprawling too thin because if you have density then
you can have efficiency, you can save time, and so on. I don't agree.
You're telling us, then, that you think the New
York solution is a good one, to maintain high density, use mass transit to
get a lot of people into a small compact space. Is that what you're telling
Well, I'm saying that the whole trend now in this
country, it's happening everywhere, is toward compactness and cluster. We're
having to do it with most of our cities, and this means we're going to have
to go to public transportation. .
Sir, that's what you advocate. In the Atlantic
Monthly you said, "Mass transit would lead to the building of more compact
communities." But people around the country are proving they don't want to
be compacted. Every man wants to move out in the suburbs. Practically all
new jobs are in the suburbs, all new factories, all new homes. That's where
the American people are going. I read that urban densities have decreased by
one-third over the last 20 years. But you are in favor of reversing that by
using transit to get people into what you call more compact, New York-style
communities. Isn't that so?
If you look at the new cities, the new towns, the
really good ones that are being built, like Reston, Virginia, Columbia,
Maryland, this is based on the idea of cluster. And the truth of the matter
is, as I read it, and look at the building permits…
A lot of people don't want to be clustered.
No, no, but we're going to more and more low-rises,
apartments, townhouses, and so on because we're running out of land.
But people don't want to live in them. They want to
live in homes…
Twenty-five years ago we could all own an acre of
land in the suburbs; but we sprawled too much, and the land is gone. We
can't go that way.
So you would reverse the decentralization of the
It's already happening, in my judgment.
O.K., sir. Let me ask you, tell me more about how
this transit would work. Right now, I drive 15 miles to work. I take it you
would have me drive to a transit station and leave my car and get a train.
Is that right?
Well, I'd have you do, and let's get personal since
you're in L.A., what they're doing in San Francisco. I rode the BART system
the other day, and ...
I hope you weren't on it when it malfunctioned.
No, this is the 1960's technology. We probably could
improve upon it now. But, yes, you'd ideally maybe ride a bicycle or maybe
even walk to a station.
Could I take a car?
No, no, you don't have to ...
You would make it illegal for me to take it?
No, no, I wouldn't make it illegal. I'd make it so
convenient and so cheap and so pleasant, for health reasons you'd jog or
you'd ride a bicycle...
I happen to live at the beach in Los Angeles, and
I do jog in the morning, but I don't want to jog to work. To get to work, I
want to drive my car, listen to Bach on the radio; and thanks to our good
freeway system, I get there in 30 minutes. Now, you would have me go to some
station, and where am I supposed to park my car?
Well, the BART system in San Francisco has very good
Are you going to have parking for five or ten
thousand cars? Will you, at that station?
Well, we're going to have to provide adequate
parking. But also, if they do it right, if we do this the way we really
could do it, probably half or a significant proportion of the people would
actually walk, bicycle, for health reasons. We've got to protect ourselves
by getting more exercise, not less. The automobile's part of a conspiracy to
make us slow-footed and obese.
One last question.
…let me ask you this. Where would you get all this
new electricity to run this tremendous mass transit system. Here on the East
coast, I read about brownouts and blackouts. They're running on the very
edge of their electrical capacity. Now, how would you build enough power
stations in this area, and where would you build them, to create that
Well, you're pointing out a very good aspect of
this; and that is, anywhere we turn, we're faced with using more energy. And
it's true if we use electric systems, we're putting an extra burden on
Mr. Udall, my question is where will that
additional electricity come from? Metro, in Washington, says they're going
to be the second biggest user of electricity in Washington, D.C. Where are
they going to get it?
Well, we're going to have to generate it, but that
electricity, because of the efficiency of mass transit, will use far less
energy than the automobile, which is the most wasteful vehicle we've ever
come up with.
Mr. Udall, we still ...
Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
I marvel at Mr. Julber's description of how he
tools down those Los Angeles freeways so simply and easily. I've been on a
few lately, and I must say it's one- of the worst horror courses I've ever
been on in my life. To tell us about another way which one state in the
Union is adopting as a proposal, I'm pleased to present the Governor of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Francis Sargent.
You didn’t have far to come, Governor, but welcome
to The Advocates, anyway.
Thank you very much.
Governor Sargent has been the Governor of
Massachusetts since 1968, and before that he was the state's Highway
Commissioner. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Highway Committee of the
National Governor's Conference. Governor, a few months ago, you announced a
major policy decision on transportation here in Massachusetts. Could you
tell us about that decision?
Yeah. What we essentially decided was that we were
not going to continue to build eight-lane. 10-lane, 12-lane highways into
the city of Boston. We just can't do it. We cannot continue with that.
Instead, we're going to build rapid transit. We're going to improve bus
service. We're going to build tunnels for restricted use of emergency
vehicles, and so on. And we're going to turn the thing around and not have a
total reliance for the commuter on the automobile, the way we have at the
Why did you make that decision?
I made it on the basis of a study, a three-year
study that looked into every single aspect of transportation. And clearly it
showed to me that we would have to have a balanced transportation system.
But we're not saying that we're never going to have any roads. But we're not
going to build any more interstate highways into this city. And this was one
of the clearest indications that we got from the study. And the study wasn't
merely a highway study. This was a study made by architects and engineers
and social economists and others. I'm positive we're doing the right thing
for this city.
And you've made that judgment. It's received a lot
of public support. And you want to go ahead with the new public
transportation system. What do you see as your principal problem in
proceeding along those lines?
Well, the principal problem is one of money. And
this is why I feel that we should be able to turn to the highway trust fund,
that the highway trust fund shouldn't be purely for highways, that each
state should be able to decide how to use the available money for
transportation. Obviously, the situation in Massachusetts is not going to be
the same as in Montana. But today you've got to spend that money on
And I take is, as Governor, there's a lot of
pressure on you to use that money if that's all you can spend it for.
Oh, tremendous pressure, very obviously.
Now, do you think, once you've built this public
transportation system, assuming we can squeeze those funds out of the
federal highway trust fund, that people are going to use it?
Oh, I'm positive they will. We have a new line
going to South of Boston; it's about nine miles long. It's got an increasing
usage of some, I think, 25,000 people that are using it today. It isn't the
best that we can have. I think that we can look to the future. But it is
fast, it is clean, it is on time, and it is much better. Now, the old
rickety system, granted, is nothing but chaos.
Tell me, do your fellow governors support you in
this effort, do you feel?
Well, you know, it's interesting...
Last question, Governor.
We had a meeting of the Governors' Conference back
a few years ago, and virtually none of the governors were in favor of
busting the trust fund. But at the last meeting of the governors, they all
saw the benefit. They realized that they would be able to have flexibility
and be able to make decisions that were proper for them, and we could make
decisions that were proper for us in Massachusetts.
And a majority of them now support this
Yes, they do. Yes, they do.
Thank you, Governor.
Governor Sargent, I'm sure Mr. Julber has some
questions for you.
Governor, it's an honor to meet you this evening.
Governor, your decision to stop highway construction in Massachusetts has
not been universally popular, has it?
No. I don't think you can face any sort of a
transportation question, be it in the city or be it in the rural areas, that
there isn't going to be a heck of an argument.
Well, sir, a gentleman named Walter J. Ryan writes
in the Boston Globe about Governor Sargent’s "infamous moratorium" and asks,
"Has the Governor ever forgotten how it is to wait in the early morning in a
northeast wind in 15 degree weather for a streetcar or bus?" Have you
forgotten that, Governor?
Let me just say that what we're talking about is
having a modern system and modern stations and clean stations and on-time
O.K. And then Mr. Ryan says that the Governor's
moratorium dealt the Massachusetts economy a trip hammer blow, created
deep-seated unemployment, and leaves Massachusetts far behind the recovery
rate of the rest of the nation.
Just because we have a 25-year plan, we're not
going to proceed with it just entirely and completely on the matter of jobs.
Actually, when you build these highways, you're eliminating jobs also.
You're eliminating industry. You're ruining homes. You're ruining the very
environment in which we live.
Governor, you already, here in Boston, have one of
the biggest subway mass transit systems in the country, the Massachusetts
Bay Transit Authority. Last year, despite all your need that you have
described for transit here, it lost $70 million. Now, if you build it any
bigger, won't it just lose more money?
For example, do you realize that the automobile
industry is spending a billion dollars a year just to advertise automobiles,
to drag people away from using mass transit.
You think it's better to use that and lose money on
Boston subways? Is that it?
No, no. Let me just finish my point, now. My point
is that this country has been spending billions and billions and billions
and billions of dollars building highways and just a tiny fraction for mass
transit. What I want to be able to do is to make a decision that's proper
for Massachusetts, not the same decision as would apply in Montana.
Governor, I only have a few more moments, so let me
quickly ask you this. If you want a bigger local subway, why can't you pay
for it from local funds? Now last year, Massachusetts and Boston combined
got $180 million in revenue sharing. Now, I don't want to be indelicate,
Governor, but what did you do with that money?
We're putting money into the improvement of our
rapid transit. We're building more. But what I'm saying is that I
Then why do you want to dip into highway trust
…But what I don't want to do is, just because the
money is there, go ahead and build more highways right into the middle of
the city of Boston. I, frankly, want Boston to be different from Los
Angeles, if you really want to know.
Governor, whatever your hopes are for Boston, let
me give you an example that will show you how unfair it would be to dip into
highway trust funds to help your mass transit in Boston. And I want to give
you the example of my milkman that I talked to recently. And it turns out he
puts 10 times more miles per year on his truck than I put on my car. Now, he
has an independent delivery route. That's how he earns his living. He pays
in, because he buys 10 times more gas than I do, he pays in 10 times as much
money. He pays 8500 a year into the trust fund; I pay $50 a year into the
trust fund. But I'm frank to say I make more money than my milkman. Now, if
you take your money for Boston transit out of the trust fund, Governor, what
you're doing is making people like my milkman and all delivery men,
salesmen, company representatives, every man who has to drive for a living,
you're making that man pay five to 10 times more for your Boston mass
transit than lawyers, doctors, bankers, who just sit in their offices and
don't put a lot of miles on. Now, does that strike you as being fair?
I don't think you're milkman should tell us in
Massachusetts how we should spend that overall amount of money.
Governor, so your position will be clear on this,
then you think it is fair to make people like the milkman, the Good Humor
Man, an independent truck owner, pay 10 times more to support Boston mass
transit than a lawyer, doctor, or banker, who makes much more than that
individual. Does that seem fair to you?
What I'm saying is that he and his family well
may use mass transit, and what I think he'd want to be sure is that
California can have its decision as to how it wants to spend its
…there, not here, not in Massachusetts.
Mr. Julber, we have time for just one
One last question. Governor, didn't you Bostonians
bring a lot of your local transit problems onto yourselves. Five years ago,
you rebuilt downtown Boston with a lot of federal money, great skyscrapers.
Your skyline rivals New York. Didn't you stop to ask yourselves then, "How
are we going to get all these additional people in and out of this little
area of land?"
Twenty-five years ago, we designed a highway
system that made sense then, we thought. But we've learned that it would be
disastrous for that city because when the interstate system -and I don't
disagree with the interstate system, I favor it, I think it was a great
thing for this country - but when we started building these interstate
highways through and into cities, they were used for commuters and not for
interstate purposes, they were polluting the air, and they were tearing the
cities apart. And I don't want to do that anymore.
Thank you, Governor.
Thank you very much, Governor Sargent, for being
on The Advocates.
We're all worried about Mr. Julber's milkman, and
if we don't cut out some of these other cars, the milk's going to go sour
before he gets to our houses so he can deliver. I hope you will just bear in
mind, as you listen to Mr. Julber's witnesses, he's talked an awful lot
about transit deficits here tonight, that we spend in this country for the
automobile and the highway and road systems that serve it $200 billion a
year. Only five billion comes out of the federal highway trust fund, and the
other 195 billion, ladies and gentlemen, comes out of your pocket and
Thank you, Mr. Dukakis. For those in our viewing
audience who may have joined us late, Mr. Dukakis and his witnesses have
presented their case for the diversion of one-half of the federal dollars
presently reserved for the construction of highways to mass transit systems.
And now, to Mr. Julber and the case against. Mr. Julber, the floor is
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, last year in St.
Louis a multimillion dollar public housing development, it was called
Pruitt–Igoe, had to be torn down. It was brand new, and it had won many
architectural awards from these planners that we've heard from. The trouble
was nobody would live in it. The politicians have told us that if we just
put people into boxes called public housing, our urban problems would be
solved. They were wrong, but now they're back with the next chapter. Put the
people into boxes on rails. Mass transit will solve our urban problems. The
people who say this are very sincere, but they are mistaken. Now, let's look
at some of the facts about mass transit and not the myths. I call as my
first witness, Professor of Economics, George Hilton from UCLA.
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Hilton.
Professor Hilton has been Chairman of President
Johnson's Task Force on Transportation Policy. He is consultant to the World
Bank on Transportation and has been Curator of Rail Transportation at the
Professor Hilton, what is the history of mass
transit in this country?
Well, rapid transit was invented by Frank J.
Sprague in 1897-98 in Chicago. It's appropriate for a very limited number of
installations, places of high population density, centralized patterns of
employment, and especially Water barriers to prevent cities from spreading
out. Its main application is in New York where 81 percent of rapid transit
passengers are. It was economic for investment by the private sector up to
the panic of 1907. The forces for diffusion on cities set in thereafter, and
that about ended it.
Is this type of transit really suitable for modern
needs, in your judgment?
Well, not at all because it serves essentially
only the trip into a central business district which is declining very
rapidly. As recently as 1960, about 11 percent of all trips in Chicago were
to the Loop. It's down to about eight percent now. It's expected to be down
to five percent by 1980.
Does mass transit actually decrease automobile
What it does is quite consistent between the new
installations. For example, in the line to Quincy here, which the Governor
mentioned, it is thought by the Department of Public Works of Massachusetts
to have diverted somewhat under 1000 vehicles per day from the Southeast
Expressway which it parallels. That expressway carries between 80,000 and
120,000 vehicles in the ordinary course of working days. And so the thousand
vehicles is imperceptible relative to that variance and also to the growth,
which is usually about four percent per year . . .
And what did that transit line cost?
I believe 111 million.
Do you think it was worthwhile to put that in to
divert one percent of the vehicles from the expressway?
Oh, no. You can do approximately the same thing
with buses on throughways for about two percent of the investment.
All right. Incidentally, there's been mention here
of a great new system in San Francisco, the BART system. Would you tell us
about that, Professor Hilton?
Well, it-has cost approximately 1,5 billion. It's
expected by its proponents to divert about five to six percent of the trips
in the area, which would make its experience consistent with what I've just
mentioned, one to two year cycle of growth. It's costing about $20 million
dollars a mile. It's expected to move passengers for about two dollars per-
passenger for an average fare of 64 cents. The rest will be made up by the
You mean it actually costs about two dollars for
each passenger they move?
Well, probably more than that by the time they
rectify their current malfunction in their control mechanism.
O.K. And who's going to make up the rest of the
A variety of federal and local subsidies…and
In your judgment, does mass transit help poor and
minority groups, for example?
No, because all it does, essentially, is provide a
higher quality trip into a central business district. The trip which they
find most difficult in making is from an urban residential area, a ghetto,
to outlying places of employment. And linear systems of all sorts, and I
include buses in this, are too inflexible to provide this trip for
Do you think that the building of these kinds of
mass transit systems is at all an economical thing for our country to
Oh, no. A high official of the Department of
Transportation said quite straightforwardly that only two percent could be
justified by fare box revenues.
All right. Are there crime and social problems
connected with this kind of mass transit installation?
Well, yes, because both the stations and vehicles
are outside the ordinary course of policing, so it's going to be vandalized
and other forms of crime.
What do you think a more sensible answer to our
modern urban transportation problems is?
Well, the main thing we need is a different system
of charging people for the use of the roads, something to replace a flat tax
on gasoline, something which will charge people more for driving in rush
hours than in off hours so as give them an incentive to use buses or
existing rail systems. Second, we need more circumferential freeways, like
Routes 128 and 495 here…
These are freeways that go around the cities
instead of through them?
That's right, the beltways around Washington and
Baltimore. And third, we need competitive taxicab and bus systems, which is
to say, jitneys as distinct from monopolized or Cartelized ones, to make
public transit more demand responsive.
O.K. Thank you very much.
Thank you. Your witness, Mr. Dukakis.
Mr. Hilton, I was interested in that comment
about crime and vandalism. They steal a lot of cars around here. Don't they
out there in Los Angeles?
Yes. The incidence of vandalism against
automobiles in the parking lot of the Cleveland Airport increased
appreciably after the construction of the rapid transit line there,
I see. And you think those two factors are
I see. The Highway Users' Federation estimates
that we're going to have another 66 million cars in the United States by
1985, for a total of about 188 million. How many more highways and
interchanges are we going to have to build to accommodate those cars?
We're certainly going to have to build a great
many more highways, mainly in rural areas and the circumferential
routes/which I mentioned because that's where the major increase in trips
is. I think building additional radial facilities, paralleling the Southeast
Expressway here with another expressway of that sort, is as wasteful as
building your Quincy Rapid Transit Line has been. Basically, both of those
are symptoms of the fact that the way in which roads are at present priced
tends not to inhibit people from using automobiles for peak hour service.
And so, you get the excessive demand for investment just to deal with peak
hours. We have the same problem with Panama Canal, airports, and a large
number of others.
Well, you don't want us to close up our existing
transit system, do you? That would be intolerable.
No, no, I wouldn't argue for that. I'm arguing
against investing in additional ones.
These belt highways you talk about, you mentioned
a couple of belt highways around the city of Boston.
One of them is absolutely jammed beyond capacity,
and the other is on its way. How many belt highways do you want us to build
before we've saturated our…
The present nature of all pricing, you're going to
have a saturation of most urban facilities in any case, whether or not you
build rapid transit and whether or not you build additional roads. What it
is is just a standard example of elementary economics courses, is that you
get queuing when you give away anything free. This is one of the
Queuing is when people stand in line, I take
Yes, that's right, whether it's giving away the
tickets to the Library of Congress chamber music concerts in Washington or
the freeways around our cities.
So, what you would do, I take it, would be to
turn these freeways into toll roads. Is that it?
No, not that because it would give people an
incentive to use the other roads, and the accident rate is usually only a
quarter to a half on the freeways what it is on the other roads. A general
system of metering the use of the roads, such as proposed by Professor
William Vickrey of Columbia, a meter on the vehicle which will operate at
varying speeds depending on impulses given to it by a wire in the road, so
that people would be charged perhaps five dollars for driving into downtown
Boston in rush hours, perhaps 50 cents for doing it at three o'clock in the
And who gets to work at three in the morning,
either in Boston or Los Angeles?
Variable usage charges would give a pecuniary
incentive to people to stagger working hours. At present, rush hours are
compacting because there's no pecuniary incentive to do otherwise. The
problem is getting worse, not better.
Well, after all of us have this taxi meter on our
individual cars and we're driving around with it ticking away, supposing you
have a family with a couple of breadwinners.
Now, at present, in many transit oriented cities,
one of them takes transit and the other has the car. Maybe both take
transit. I guess, under your system, we're probably going to have to have
two- and three-car families. Aren't we to . . .
No, no, quite the contrary. The purpose of it is
to make the use of automobiles more expensive in rush hours to encourage the
use of transit, which is mainly to say buses, for trips to work, and
automobiles for point to point trips elsewhere. The present system results
in an excessive distance between home and work. It results in excessive
concentration in rush hours and several other undesirable
Well, I take it then that you would favor a
fairly substantial expansion of bus systems, at least, if not rail rapid
That would very automatically come because one of
the consequences of this form of pricing would be speeding up buses relative
to automobiles. The only attraction of rail systems, essentially, is that
they're out of these queues of vehicles, which the nature of present road
pricing creates, By speeding up the buses, we make them more attractive
relative both to the automobiles and the rail systems.
All right. Let's . . .
They can handle people for about half the cost of
the rail systems, which would probably drive most existing rail systems out
Well, all right. Let's assume that a city decides
it wants to go very heavily into buses. Would you let that city or that
state tap into the highway trust fund for that
No. I prefer to see the tax changed so that the
private sector, the competitive bus industry, would provide the buses.
Well, supposing you couldn’t operate a bus system
at a profit. I don't know of many cities . . .
Oh, it could easily be done.
Well, I don't know of many cities, Professor
Hilton, that are operating their buses at a profit...
You can't at present because . . .
In fact, a lot of them . . .
You can't at present because they're monopolies.
They are linear systems of routes inherited from the old streetcar. They're
monopolies, which stimulates a powerful union. If it were a competitive
industry of owner-operated buses, it would be very cheaply operated. It
would be possible to organize. The operating costs per mile would be much
less. Most of the people that do the driving, in fact, most of the people
who demand the service, would be members of minority groups.
Well, obviously many of us disagree with you
about this interpretation of where we're going and what we're doing in the
cities. Here's Governor Sargent who obviously disagrees with you, and he's
elected by the people of Massachusetts to make those kinds of decisions.
He's made it. Now, are you going to deny him and the people of Massachusetts
or any other state the right to tap into their share of the highway trust
fund for that purpose?
Yes. I'm not defending the highway trust fund as
it is ...
You are going to deny them that right.
Yes, because they don't make the choice. As Lyndon
(?) said of the soldiers, they vote with their feet. People vote. They tend
to leave public transit as it is presently organized . . .
Just a moment till I finish.
As their incomes go up, increase, and move to
automobiles, they'll continue to do that, if you continue to waste money on
building rail systems. I'm not defending the present organization of the
Briefly, Mr. Hilton.
What you are proposing to do would make it worse.
If you build a freeway parallel to an existing freeway, you will take off 40
percent of the people or vehicles. You build a rail transit line, you'll
take off one percent which will be imperceptible.
And you're telling this government and the people
. . .
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Hilton. Thank you very
much for being on The Advocates.
As my next witness, I call Congressman James
Wright from Fort Worth, Texas.
Welcome to Boston's The Advocates, Congressman
Thank you, Ms. Heckler.
Congressman Wright is Deputy Majority Whip of the
House and Chairman of the House Public Works Subcommittee. Congressman
Wright, what is the Highway Trust Fund?
Well, it's a fund composed of highway user taxes
imposed in 1956 upon all motorists of the United States, and all of its
revenues are devoted to the construction and completion of the interstate
highway system and the Federal Aid to Highway program.
Every time one of us motorists buys a gallon of
gas, don't we drop four pennies into that trust fund?
Four cents. That's exactly right. That's the
source from which the revenue comes,
And sir, what has been constructed from that
highway trust fund?
Perhaps as many as 30,000 miles of interstate
highway have been constructed on a 90-10 matching basis, and a great deal of
federal aid primary and secondary highways have been constructed, assisted
on a lesser matching basis. These highways probably, well unquestionably,
are used more frequently by more Americans than any other service that
Well, statements have been made here that highways
create congestion. What's your judgment on that?
Well, of course, that isn't true. That's like
saying hospitals create disease. You get the hospital, and you get it full
pretty soon. Are we going to stop building hospitals because they're full?
No. Highways were a response to congestion. When we built the interstate
system, or began it in 1956, we were trying to cram some 63 million
automotive vehicles on a road structure designed for only about half that
number. Well, of course, we had built more highways. But it's very difficult
to keep pace with the growth in the numbers of automotive vehicles. And of
course, if we don't keep pace, then the highways are less safe for America's
people, and we lose 56,000 people every year to highway fatalities.
In your judgment, do good highways help the
problem of air pollution?
Well, good highways do, and they should, of
course. Certainly circumferential highways that would move transient traffic
around the heart of the center city would keep that from coming right down
through the middle of town as it used to come as late as the 1960's in most
of the big towns in America. In addition to that, it has been estimated that
12 automobiles travelling on a freeway at a reasonably steady pace emit less
carbon, less pollution into the air than one automobile moving on old style
streets, stopping at every traffic light over the same distance.
Is that because the cars on the freeways run by
their own momentum as opposed to the motor of the car...
All you've got to do to verify that, I guess, is
to stand at the corner of a busy intersection and watch the cars as they
start up after having stopped for a light. It's visible pollution. You can
see what happens. It comes out of the exhaust pipe.
Our cities have been decentralizing at a very fast
rate. Mr. Udall has told us he doesn't think that that's a good thing. What
do you think, Congressman?
Well, it seems to me that it isn't a good thing
just to tell American citizens that they've got to congest even tighter into
greater population density. It seems to me that population density is a
serious and growing problem and that it contributes an almost geometric
progression to the root of every social ill that we have, from environmental
pollution, to crime, to psychosomatic illness, to human instability; and it
strikes me that if the American public wishes, and I think manifestly it
does wish in a large degree, to spread out and get a little more privacy, to
get a little bit of ground around them, have a little more pleasant life, it
isn't the business of government to tell them that they cannot do
The Department of Transportation has estimated
that we need $600 billion in highway work over the next 20 years. Do you
happen to know how much of that is for actual new roads?
Last question, Mr. Julber.
Yes. According to the Department of
Transportation's study, only about one percent of that money would be
committed to the construction of new roads and new corridors…
And what's all the rest for?
And the remainder would go for widening,
broadening, and making safer the highways that already exist. For example,
we've demonstrated that well-engineered modern highways save lives. The
fatality rate on the interstate is less than half what it is on the rest of
the road and street network when you measure it by millions of passenger
miles travelled. So it seems to me that that's a really important national
priority because highway deaths take more human lives every year than all of
the years of the Vietnam War have taken in American lives.
Do you think it would be wise or fair to invade
that highway trust fund when we have those highway needs over the next 20
No, I think we can meet mass transit needs without
invading the highway trust fund.
Mr. Dukakis, your witness.
Congressman, I didn't know that mental illness
was confined to the cities and…
No, I didn't say it was confined to the
…hadn't invaded the suburbs, yet. Maybe in Texas
but not in Massachusetts.
We have our share of it, of course, but I think
it's a verifiable fact that it is higher as population density
You've expressed a concept, and so, I guess, has
Prof. Hilton, of what the future of the American city ought to be.
Obviously, there are many of us that disagree with you, who love cities, who
like densely populated, active downtown centers, who want to work in them
and live in them and move in and out of them. Given that difference of
opinion, Congressman, who ought to make the final decision as to what kind
of urban environment we have and what kind of transportation facilities we
use, you or the Governor?
I wouldn't quarrel with Governor Sargent about the
needs of Boston, not for one minute, I think he knows a lot more about it
than I do. But I don't think he knows how to tell every city in America what
to do. I am in favor...
But he isn't doing that, is he?
Well, I don't know yet.
He's just asking you and the Congress to let him
use the Massachusetts share of the highway trust fund, in part, for public
transportation. Now, what's so bad about that?
I was the author of a proposal that was adopted in
the House-Senate conference on the highway bill last year that would have
given Governor Sargent the privilege of deciding, in so far as it didn't
disaccommodate transit passengers, any urban expressway, if he didn't want
to use any or part of that money for an urban expressway of interest solely
to Boston -any other mayor would have that right, or governor - that he
could have that same amount of money in advance obligational authority
committed by the Secretary of Transportation. Not out of the highway trust
fund, no. What's your objective? Do you want money for mass transit? If so,
we'll give it to you. Or do you want to stop highways? I think we need them
both. I think this country can afford them both. I think we need all the
money that's available in the highway trust fund to build the highways that
we need for safety for America's public. Don't put me in the position of
being against money for mass transit. I'm not.
Well, I've been reading stories about the
President of the United States who says he wants to limit the budget to a
maximum of $250 billion. He's even impounded, held back, a third of the
rather niggardly amount of transit funds you've already voted for us. What
prospect do you think we have of the Congress voting substantially increased
transit funds which the President won't veto…
Under the proposal that I offered, and it was
adopted in the House-Senate conference, you would have more certainty than
you have under the highway trust fund because he impounds that too. Don't be
too sure you're going to get any money out of that. So, what I'm saying to
you is I have proposed a…
You can’t be sure of anything the Nixon
Administration's doing these days.
I would agree with you there, but in deference to
Governor Sargent, I'm not going to enter that kind of discussion. What I'm
saying is that I think our needs for highways are very massive throughout
the country, but we don't have too much money coming in from this highway
users' tax to pay for it, that there are other ways that mass transit can be
financed and it should be financed just as all other things are
We, in Massachusetts, don't agree. We'd like to
have our share of the highway trust fund available for mass transit. Now why
won't you let us use it?
I'll let you have that same amount of money…
I didn't ask you that. Assuming the $250 billion
ceiling sticks, and you can't override the President's veto -and frankly I
don't see much about Congress that suggests you're going to - why won't you
let us use our share, payed by Massachusetts . . .
I just simply point out to you that we did
override the President's veto on the water pollution bill by better than 10
And he won't even spend that, will he?
No. And he won't spend the amount that we've
already got on highway trust fund. Why do you think the only solution is the
highway trust fund? Now, truly ...
That's where the money is, Congressman, paid by
That's not the only place where the money is. Oh,
by all means, no. That money's all obligated. There isn't any surplus in the
highway trust fund. Every penny in the highway trust find plus some has
already been obligated to states. Now, if the Mayor of Boston or the
Governor of Massachusetts...
For use as transit money? Obligated for use as
No, of course not. It's obligated for use on the
construction of needed highways throughout the United States. This is not
just one little problem for one community. This is a problem for the whole
nation. We've got to tie the nation together. Now, if you want to spend
money, rather than for urban expressways in the heart of Boston, on mass
transit, fine, I'm for a system that would give you that amount of money.
But don't take it away from the highway program because we need that to
complete the highway program that people all throughout this country have
been paying into it on the good faith assumption that their money was going
to build safe highways for them, and they don't ever come near Boston. So,
let's let Boston have its solution…
Congressman ... Congressman ...
I'll work it out for you. We can work it out. But
you don't have to rob the taxpayers who put their money into the highway
trust fund. That's money for highways. I say we can do both.
This trust fund concept is a rather interesting
one. It's one that certainly is rather unique, I think, as the federal
government goes. We don't take the alcohol tax and use it solely for the
rehabilitation of alcoholics, do we?
We don't take the cigarette tax and use it solely
for cancer research, do we?
I'm not suggesting that this should or shouldn't
be, but I would say this. We don't take money out of the social security
trust fund, which people have committed to it for a specific purpose, and
spend it on something else. And I don't think we should.
That's an insurance system, isn't it?
It's a social security system. You can call it an
insurance system. It's a trust fund, exactly like the highway trust fund. We
told the taxpayers in good faith, "You put your money into this fund, we'll
use it for this purpose." I think we have a good faith obligation to them. I
think it would be a breach of good faith for the government to take money
out of that social security trust fund and put it in any other purpose. I
think it would be a breach of good faith to take money out of the highway
trust fund and put it into any other purpose.
You're aware, are you not, that in the Senate an effort was
made to take alcohol tax money and move it into the highway trust fund,
No, I was not aware of that, but if . . .
Well Congressman, it passed the Senate and came
on to the House.
Congressman Wright, we have enjoyed your
testimony, and thank you very, very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will not solve the
problem of 1973 with the answers that served New York City in the 1890's.
Rail systems to a crowded central city have gone the way of the horse and
buggy no matter what kind of glamorous paint jobs you put on them. What we
do need is to continue to decentralize our cities. Believe it or not, 80
percent of our people live on two percent of our land. We should continue to
upgrade our highways. We should make cars smaller. We should stagger working
hours, develop pollution-free engines and alternate sources of energy. But
what we should not do is to invest further in systems that have proved to be
failures in the past. And certainly there should be no invasion of the
highway trust funds that are made up primarily of the pennies of the working
people of this country. Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, the wisdom of the proposal
we've been debating tonight seem so obvious that it's hard to understand how
anyone could seriously oppose it. Mass transit for all of us, city resident
and suburbanite as well, it's a good thing. And that working man that Mr.
Julber has been talking about has been paying through the nose for highways
that won't work and can't work here in the United States.
We're not asking the government to order a mandatory shift
of highway funds to mass transit. No, all we're asking is that the people of
our states and metropolitan areas be given the right to decide what kind of
transportation system they want and the right to use, not all, but just a
part of the highway money they've paid in to the federal government for that
transit system, if they want it. So, if you've ever sat and fumed for hours
on an expressway in a traffic jam and wondered if there wasn't a better way,
if you've ever watched in horror as bulldozers ripped down another
neighborhood for another one of these 10-lane monsters, if you're wondering
if your favorite park is next on the highway builder's list, now's the time
to send those politicians in Washington as message. We hope you'll vote a
resounding, "yes," on tonight's proposal.
Thank you, gentlemen. We've reached that point in
the evening when we turn to you in our audience and ask how you feel about
the question debated this evening. Should half the federal dollars reserved
for the construction of highways be diverted to mass transit? I can tell you
that as a member of Congress, our votes on all of our key issues are
influenced, to a large extent, by the judgment and the thinking of our
constituents. So, please write or send a post card to The Advocates, Box
1973, Boston 02134. Let us know where you stand on this question. Your views
will be tabulated and distributed to members of Congress and to others
concerned with this issue. As one member of this Congress, I can tell you
that I shall be watching for your response and expression of opinion. We, in
Congress, after all, are your representatives. So, please remember that
address: The Advocates, Box 1973, Boston 02134.
Earlier this month, The Advocates debated the question,
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funds should be cut off. And 25 percent said, no. And now, let's look ahead
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The Advocates, as a program, takes no position
on the issues debated tonight. Our job is to help you understand both sides