March 24, 2015

This week’s ETW Document of the Week first came to light this week in 1977, when President Carter sent a handwritten letter to his new Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, outlining the new President’s feelings about mass transit and subway systems.

Carter’s sentiments came as an unpleasant surprise to the mass transit stakeholder community when they found out about the contents of the letter. Transit historian George Smerk wrote that, “To say the least, supporters of mass transit were, especially rail transit, were dismayed. It was hard to believe that this President Carter was the same man as candidate Carter who had called for more funds for transit…In the aftermath of the memo, charges were leveled that the Carter Administration was looking more toward holding down the budget than doing anything particularly creative in dealing with the problems of energy, the environment, or the transportation realities of metropolitan areas.” (George Smerk, The Federal Role in Urban Mass Transportation, p. 149.)