President Joe Biden said late Wednesday that his $2.3-trillion infrastructure improvement plan could improve Americans’ daily commutes.
The proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, calls for expanding broadband and offering tax incentives to makers and owners of electric vehicles.
“The American Jobs Plan will build new rail corridors and transit lines, ease congestion — cutting pollution, slashing commute time,” Biden said Wednesday.
The new proposal comes shortly after the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan passed — which may make the more expensive infrastructure proposal a harder sell, particularly among Republicans and moderate Democrats.
‘Construction takes time but the long-term improvements will cut down on commuter times and reduce potential wear and tear on driver’s vehicles’
— Andrew Herrmann, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers
But it could be time well-spent negotiating with lawmakers, according to experts, who said the plan could make a real difference in Americans’ travels to and from work.
“The American Jobs Plan will slowly improve the average commute time of Americans as the deferred maintenance and rehabilitation projects start up and progress on our roads, bridges, and mass transit systems,” said Andrew Herrmann, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a tax-exempt coalition of civil engineers.
He emphasized that “construction takes time but the long-term improvements will cut down on commuter times and reduce potential wear and tear on driver’s vehicles.”
Biden’s proposal would be funded in part by raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. That would reverse the tax overhaul under President Donald Trump that dropped the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Republicans fear raising taxes on corporations could delay the U.S. path to economic recovery from the pandemic.
Americans spend an average of 54 hours a year sitting in traffic
Pre-pandemic, Americans who drove to work spent 54 hours each year on average sitting in traffic, according to research published in 2019 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which studies commute times.
In total that cost Americans $1,080 in 2017 in wasted time and fuel and is expected to increase to $1,280 in 2025
That wastes some 21 gallons of fuel a year — equivalent to a week’s worth of fuel for the average U.S. driver, according to the research. In total, that cost Americans $1,080 in 2017 in wasted time and fuel and is expected to increase to $1,280 in 2025 — a 19% increase.
Biden’s proposal, if passed, would dedicate “$115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair,” according to a fact sheet of the package published ahead of his remarks Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Not only will those upgrades make people’s commutes easier, but it will also help them save money on auto repairs and maintenance, said Matt Casale, director of U.S. PIRG’s Environment Campaigns.
“Importantly, it will also help people who travel by foot and by bike, by advancing important safety policies and investments,” said Casale, who also oversees the nonprofit’s transportation campaigns.
45% of Americans don’t have access to public transportation
Some 45% of Americans lack access to public transportation, according to the American Public Transportation Association, a nonprofit. And “more than 40% of buses and 25% of rail transit around the U.S. are in marginal or poor condition,” according to a 2010 report by the Federal Transit Administration.
Biden is also calling for “$85 billion to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet rider demand.” That “will give people better, more frequent and more convenient options for getting where they need to go by bus or train,” Casale said.
“Even with more Americans working from home, we will need these improvements,” he said.