|flickr credit (via infrastructurist)|
"The world auto industry -- including GM, Ford, and Chrysler -- will have to rationalize, consolidate, reduce capacity. Bailing out GM and Chrysler, bailing out GM's finance division, giving cash for clunkers, hoping the American auto industry will bounce back, throwing another big auto show in Detroit. All this is irrelevant to the real challenge.
And that challenge is getting new, good-paying jobs for all the auto and auto-parts workers who will continue to be laid off, even when the U.S. economy is fully recovered. And helping Detroit and other auto communities create new industries that move people from place to place at minimum cost, with minimum carbon.
This is what the Detroit Auto Show ought to be about. Not more cars."
And if current market conditions are not enough to compel the Detroit transportation industry to diversify its portfolio, today's announcement by Ray Lahood about new criteria for federal transit funding may strengthen the case. Insiders are hailing this as a big shift in federal priorities. Cost effectiveness for transit projects will no longer be determined only on the basis of speed, but other "livability" factors will be considered as well - spurring development, limiting congestion, reducing carbon output, and in Lahood's words "how it makes our communities better places to live." If we're going to be buying more streetcars and rail equipment, it would be nice if Americans could make it.
The Infrastructurist has been beating the drum for a revived American train industry for a little while now, with an interview with Michael Dukakis, an interesting series on global train manufacturers, and an announcement from Michigan's governor over the summer.