So the 2016 election cycle in the US is over, and Donald Trump has been selected to lead the country and, by extension, the free world. The good news is that there will be another election in four years. The bad news is that we have to wait for four years.
So what will this mean to transportation in the US? No direct questions were asked during the campaigns and debates relating to the plans of either candidate, and there is little to be found on the nominee’s website giving any real substantial plans on anything, let alone transportation. What we do know is this: Trump is a pro-business demagogue who won by pandering to the lowest of feelings in us: racism, bias, sexism, etc. One need only watch video of his rallies and the behavior not only of the candidate, but also his followers, to begin to see what may be in store for the nation. I envision years, nay decades, of progress unraveling in the days to come.
But to get back to point: transportation. In his victory speech in the early hours of November 9, Mr. Trump mentioned the need to rebuild infrastructure. Considering his corporate ties and business cronies, as well as his promise to undo the environmental accords of recent years, I predict the improvements for ground transportation will be centered around the continued use of the automobile, with the resultant spewing of noxious fumes into the air we breathe. Hopefully, the conservation members of Congress will be able to protect and preserve some of what has been gained in the last eight years.
However, since most transportation planning takes place at more local (city, county, state) levels, we can’t wait for another change in Washington. More than ever, we need to be vigilant in the choices our mayor, governor, councils, commissioners, and state senators make in transportation. We need to educate, advise, nudge and prod them into continuing the right path. And we need to start NOW. In Omaha, elections for mayor are next year, and I’m going to be looking for the candidate who has the most progressive plan for transportation in the city. We have four years before we get to choose again who leads the nation; let’s put them to good use by organizing and learning to use our combined might.