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Report: Stimulus Money Takes NM Families For a Ride, Literally

July 7, 2008

Albuquerque, NM - The average American household already has poured the equivalent of its $1,500 economic stimulus check into the fuel tank, according to a recent report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). However, it says, there IS an alternative to paying high gas prices: Invest in public transportation.

Gabriel Nims, with the group "1,000 Friends of New Mexico," says spending money for transit infrastructure is a type of long-term economic stimulus.

"By investing in public transit and creating more walkable and bike-friendly communities, over the long run you will do way more to stimulate the economy and provide relief to working families."

He notes that New Mexico, unlike other states, doesn't have a public transit fund to provide the local dollars required to match federal transportation money.

Nims says New Mexico can become better equipped to deal with high gas prices by building on the success of the Rail Runner.

"We can start to look at ways that public transit -- either buses or other modes -- can really be enhanced to serve the needs of more working families in our state."

Critics of the PIRG report contend economic stimulus money is being used for more than gasoline, and say families would have spent about $1,000 on fuel during that timeframe even if prices had stayed the same.

The full report is available at www.uspirg.org.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NM