This Is Why Republicans Hate Mass Transit This Is Why Republicans Hate Mass Transit

This Is Why Republicans Hate Mass Transit

by Ben Jervey

February 5, 2011

In case you often wonder, as I certainly do, why so many Republicans openly mock mass transit, this chart (click through for a bigger version) tells you pretty much everything you need to know: Republicans represent suburbia, Democrats represent cities.

Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic, who created the chart, breaks it down:

The Democratic Party holds most of its power in the nation’s cities, whereas the GOP retains greater strength in the exurbs and rural areas. The two parties generally fight it out over the suburbs. In essence, the base of the two parties is becoming increasingly split in spatial terms: The Democrats’ most vocal constituents live in cities, whereas the Republicans’ power brokers would never agree to what some frame as a nightmare of tenements and light rail.

What does this mean? When there is a change in political power in Washington, the differences on transportation policy and other urban issues between the parties reveal themselves as very stark. Republicans in the House of Representatives know that very few of their constituents would benefit directly from increased spending on transit, for instance, so they propose gutting the nation’s commitment to new public transportation lines when they enter office. Starting two years ago, Democrats pushed the opposite agenda, devoting billions to urban-level projects that would have been impossible under the Bush Administration.

There's only one Republican who holds a seat from a district with a density higher than 7,000 people per square mile, and he's from Staten Island.

Hat tip to Streetsblog, where Angie Schmitt smartly makes the point that "there seems to be a mismatch between the party’s espoused ideals and its preference for highly subsidized and highly expensive auto infrastructure." It's all about re-election. 

Graphic: The Transport Politic

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
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This Is Why Republicans Hate Mass Transit