Via the anti-Planner, comes this amazing slide from a presentation by the city of Omaha on their new initiative for "Livable Transportation" (ppt presentation). Ray LaHood recently asked that all transportation authorities include "livability" in the next round of their 5-year transportation plans.
What does "Livability" even mean? Well, I was not sure. This is one of those vague happy-sounding words that give liberals a hard-on in the context of government programs but generally just end up being an excuse for the exercise of state power at the expense of individual choice.
But in this case we don't have to guess, because in the presentation linked above we have the following as the first slide in the presentation, defining livability in this context:
I kid you not -- the two key steps in livable transportation are apparently increasing delay in auto commutes and increasing the cost of auto commutes. Wow, that certainly sounds like something that will make my life better (on the bright side, it strikes me as a goal that the generally-incompetent government can actually achieve).
Of course, the issue is not really about livability, but about the imposition of a few intellectuals' disdain for cars on the rest of us.
And if you want to look for the financial incentives, the size of government per passenger-mile of commute is maximized with rail mass transit. First, this is because rail is simply more expensive than driving -- way more expensive - - per passenger mile in any Western city like Omaha, even when all the costs of driving are considered. Second, with rail, the government nationalizes things like driving and maintenance that you do yourself or are done by private actors, and brings them in-house to be performed by powerful government unions.
Postscript: Left unsaid in any of this presentation is how increasing commute delay leads to keeping jobs and businesses in the lower left. That strikes me as a non sequitur of epic proportions.