John Rennie Short

Urban policy expert calls for more investment in public transit after D.C. metro shutdown

In a new op-ed published in The Conversation, School of Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short comments on the growing infrastructure gap in the United States and questions why there isn’t more investment in public transportation in major cities.

Short’s op-ed “Why is the U.S. unwilling to pay for good public transportation” came after officials in Washington, D.C. closed the entire Metro system after frayed electrical cables were discovered in 26 locations.

“The quality of a country’s infrastructure is directly linked to its competitiveness because it makes businesses more productive and improves the quality of life. Why has the U.S. let its public transit slip so far?,” explains Short in his article.

Having just visited Switzerland, Short described how many European capitals have more advanced public transportation systems, stating that “our competitors are out-investing us in the vital infrastructure necessary to make our economy efficient and internationally competitive.”

Further analyzing what has contributed to growing public transport issues, Short mentions increased use of cars, investment in the national highway system, and constrained funding for transportation improvements, among other issues, but writes “there is some room for optimism.”

Read the full article in The Conversation. The op-ed has been circulated widely and has been picked up by Slate and Sea Change Radio. Professor Short also wrote a similar article on April 13 for Market Watch titled “Our crumbling infrastructure is hurting U.S. competitiveness.”   

Image: John Rennie Short. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.