July 15: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a bill recently that addresses rising energy and transportation costs, and offers potential solutions to relieve the pressure off of the American public. Titled, "H.R. 6495: Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008", the proposed bipartisan legislation was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. By offering housing and transportation choices, Blumenauer and co-sponsors Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) aim to relieve the added burden of energy costs and gas prices that have tripled over the last decade.
Specifically, the bill provides the following alternatives: 1) Increasing commuter choices by making public transit more accessible, encouraging transit-oriented development, and incentivizing car and van-pooling, bicycling and using public transit; 2) Helping transit agencies by providing fare subsidies, and funds for service improvements; 3) Assisting communities by increasing funding for Safe Routes to School programs which encourage walking and biking to and from schools and expand program to high schools; 4) Providing housing assistance to homeowners who chose to live near public transit, and provide increased funding for states to build more affordable housing near transit; and 5) Increasing federal role in local transportation management that encourages more efficient use of transportation assets, and increasing transportation fringe benefits to all federal employees.