You can really tell that Ezra Klein doesn’t live in Virginia. Here, traffic has been a voting issue for at least a decade now.
How long till traffic becomes a voting issue? Americans spend more time in it every year. They get heart attacks from it. And now, with gas prices well above $100 — and racing skyward still — how long till road rage, till driving, till a life spent in the car and a paycheck spent at the pump, become voting issues? Arguably, gas prices are already there. But no politicians has figured out how to do anything with that save promise lower gas prices. But we’re not going to lower gas prices. And discontent will only become more intense. Someday, some politician is going to figure out what to do with that, and my hunch in the word “transit” will be a big part of it.
Of course, part of the issue is the extent to which traffic is a federal voting issue. In Virginia and I’m sure lots of other states traffic and transit already are voting issues, but they don’t necessarily translate to the federal level. Even in Northern Virginia, as traffic clogged and pissed off a region as there is in the country, the only way transit has factored in as a federal voting issue is how well politicians like Tom Davis and Frank Wolf have been able to bring home the transit bacon. In terms of presidential level stuff, the things the federal government can do, like readjusting the formulae that given new roads the priority over mass transit, just aren’t that sexy.