Join the Movement

Members of Voices for Public Transit know public transportation benefits everyone. We’re keeping it moving.

Join the Movement

Members of Voices for Public Transit know public transportation benefits everyone. We’re keeping it moving.

Voices for Public Transit

Voices For Transit

We All Benefit

Whether you ride or not, public transportation benefits all of us. It reduces pollution, eases traffic congestion, and helps our communities thrive. In cities, suburbs, and rural America, public transit provides vital connections to jobs, education, medical care, and our larger communities. Help us keep America moving. Sign Up Today»

  • Transit Systems Help Fulfill Our #PledgeToRide

    On June 18, Voices for Public Transit participants took to the streets…by way of their local buses, streetcars, and rail systems. Leaving their cars at home, they didn’t have to drive white-knuckled in heavy traffic or struggle to find parking.

    Instead, they took part in the 10th annual National Dump the Pump Day—an event highlighting the value of public transportation for communities, the environment, and household budgets.

    Voices for Public Transit supporters also participated by taking the online #PledgeToRide and posting their support on Facebook and Twitter. By spreading the word on social media, transit supporters reached more than 287,261 people online. Check out some of the photos we got from public transit advocates across the country:

    Highlights from Around the Country

    Transit systems around the country made it easy, fun, and affordable for people to leave their cars behind. All told, 176 public transit systems and another 46 organizations participated in the annual event.

    Public transportation plays an important role in American communities of all sizes, so it was great to see the variety of systems taking part in the event. Just a few highlights include:

    • Springfield, Missouri—For City Utilities Transit Services, one day of celebration wasn’t enough. Dump the Pump Day—with free rides—was just one part of “Communities in Motion Week,” which also included a blood drive and a salute to veterans.

    • Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, Pennsylvania—Bus systems in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas offered free rides, highlighting the economic and environmental benefits of using public transportation. Both systems serve urban centers and surrounding communities.

    • Los Angeles and Orange County, California—In the entertainment capital of the world, transit officials delivered their message in dramatic fashion. During a press event, a motorcycle officer served divorce papers on a car. L.A. Metro President Phil Washington explained that area residents can save almost $13,000 a year by divorcing their cars.

    Where is Congress?

    National Dump the Pump Day helped serve notice to Congress that Americans are waiting for a long-term transportation funding measure. The current short-term extension of transportation funding runs out in less than six weeks—on July 31.

    Because of shortcomings in public transportation funding, approximately 45 percent of Americans have no access to public transportation. If Congress is serious about helping Americans get around, they will find a way not only to maintain the transportation system that we have, but also support the expansion of transportation options for every community in the nation. Time is running out to find a solution this year.

  • Pledge to Ride

    On June 18, unite with people around the country to give up your car for the day. Instead, ride public transportation, bike, or walk to work and other destinations as part of the 10th annual National Dump the Pump Day.

    It’s Happening Nationwide—and Online

    Many public transit systems around the country will be providing free rides, giving away prizes, and running contests to encourage people to leave their cars at home and explore the advantages of public transportation.

    You can help raise awareness and encourage others to get involved in just three quick steps:

    1. Download our “Pledge to Ride” poster
    2. Snap a picture of yourself holding the poster
    3. Post your “Pledge selfie” on our Facebook event page

    Why It Makes Sense to Ride Public Transit

    Riding public transportation helps your budget, your community, and our planet. Consider these facts:

    • By downsizing to one car and using public transportation, a two-person household can save nearly $9,400 a year on average.
    • Public transit use cuts carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. More public transit use and fewer cars on the road will lead to further carbon reductions.
    • The more people who use public transit—and call on our elected officials to make it a priority—the more it will continue to grow and connect us.

    Help us show America that the Voices for Public Transit community doesn’t just talk the talk—we walk the walk. Pledge to ride public transit Thursday, June 18—then share pictures of yourself fulfilling the pledge.

  • Voices for Public Transit Rally to Rebuild America

    On May 13, as part of the online Rally to Rebuild America, thousands of advocates united to call on Congress to pass long-term transportation funding.

    We emailed legislators, sent letters to editors of local papers, and posted photos on our Facebook Rally to Rebuild America page. Our message was LOUD and CLEAR: We need real investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

    The Rally to Rebuild America

    During our virtual Rally to Rebuild America, we were joined by mayors from all around the country. They went to Capitol Hill in person to reiterate that cities and communities of all sizes need consistent, long-term funding for transportation.

    Voices for Public Transit and other online supporters reinforced the mayors’ message by:

    • Sending more than 11,000 emails to Congress
    • Delivering more than 22,000 petition signatures to every congressional office
    • Reaching more than 300,000 people online through our Facebook event

    Congress knows Americans want a long-term transportation bill before funding expires. Funding was set to expire on May 31, but Congress has passed yet another short-term extension, moving the deadline to July 31. While we are glad Congress isn’t going to let transportation funding come to a complete stop, we need more than just quick fixes—we need real solutions.

    What Happens Next?

    One way or another, we will hear from Congress in the coming weeks. If Congress cannot deliver a long-term solution to our transportation funding crisis by July 31, we expect at the very least to see a timetable for Congress to pass a comprehensive transportation bill. The American people deserve assurances—real assurances set by a vote in the House and Senate—that a long-term bill is on the way. America is watching and we will remember how Congress acts—or doesn’t act—on this issue.

    Stay tuned.

  • Schools Compete at Sustainable Transportation Competition

    Schools Compete at Sustainable Transportation Competition

    Voices for Public Transit know America’s future is riding on public transportation. We need a totally transformed national transportation network that enables the mobility of our growing population for decades to come.

    But transportation entails much more than the physical infrastructure of buses, rail cars, roads, bridges, and rail. The future of transportation depends on people—future leaders, planners, inventors, engineers, technologists, and operators. We need members of the next generation to understand the importance of public transportation and to pursue careers in this critical arena.

    Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP)

    In 2005, Congress upped the ante on transportation-focused education by establishing the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP). Garrett Morgan (1877-1963) was an African American inventor who designed an early traffic signal.

    As part of GAMTTEP, transportation systems, companies, and organizations partner with middle school classes in their region to compete in the Garrett Morgan Symposium competition to prepare and present projects focused on sustainable transportation. The winning classroom is awarded $1,000.

    Go Gaithersburg Middle School!

    For the 2015 competition, the American Public Transportation Association sponsored Gaithersburg (Maryland) Middle School, which created an animated video about the value of public transportation.

    We’re super-proud of the great work of the Gaithersburg Middle School team, who drew on key transportation facts and figures to make a spirited case for public transportation. The video emphasizes a central point of the public transportation community, namely that, “Where public transportation goes, community grows.”

    Congratulations to all of the participants. It’s great to see young people getting excited about public transportation. Our nation will be riding on their vision.

  • Help Us Rally to Rebuild America

    Congress knows the score. They only have until the end of May to come up with legislation that puts American public transportation back on track.

    After Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, Congress recognizes that people all around the country are watching and waiting for action. But will they muster the courage and political will to get the job done?

    On May 13, as part of National Infrastructure Week’s Advocacy Day, Voices for Public Transit is joining forces with dozens of other organizations and mayors from around the country for the Rally to Rebuild America.

    Keeping the Pressure on Congress

    Starting now, we’re building toward May 13 so that voices from around the country amplify the message delivered by the nation’s mayors and Infrastructure Week advocates on Capitol Hill.

    There are several additional actions you can take to make sure we keep the pressure on Congress:

    Here’s how you can join the rally and help us put pressure on Congress to pass long-term transportation funding:

    You don’t have to wait until May 13 to get involved—feel free to start taking action now! Even if you’ve written already written your elected officials, please write again as part of the Rally to Rebuild America.

    If Congress fails to act, cities of every size will see declines in their bus and rail operations. The cost of Congress’s failure could translate into a $227 billion blow to community economies over the next six years. In addition, at least 66 public transportation projects would be at risk.

    When America’s mayors visit Capitol Hill, they’ll be accompanied by a diverse group of business, community, and labor leaders. On many issues, business and labor don’t see eye to eye. But on transportation, there is wide agreement that our nation must start to address our transportation challenges now—before we slip further behind.

    The Rally to Rebuild America is your chance to make your voice heard as we rally one more time for public transportation and the roads, bridges, and ports we all rely on! Join the Rally today!

  • Stand Up 4 Transportation Day

    On April 9—National Stand Up 4 Transportation Day—thousands of Voices for Public Transit members delivered a firm, clear, and LOUD message to Congress: America needs comprehensive, long-term transportation funding now!

    Overall, it was a tremendous day for public transportation advocacy. Tens of thousands of people around the country participated online and in their local communities. We also enlisted the help of more than 350 transportation systems, supportive businesses, and government agencies.

    Highlights included:

    • Transportation advocates held more than 150 events in communities around the nation.
    • 22,425 supporters signed our petition, and our online “Thunderclap” reached more than 915,000 people on social media.
    • Voices for Public Transit like you sent 11,500 emails to members of Congress.
    • At least 60 people sent letters to the editor to their local news media.
    • More than 19,000 new supporters joined the Voices for Public Transit movement.

    Together, all of this activity shined a spotlight on the value of public transportation and the urgent need for Congress to move forward and pass a multi-year transportation bill. The ball is now in Congress’s court. Legislators need to consider current proposals, develop new options, and pass a long-term transportation bill that includes improved and expanded public transportation. The deadline is May 31: the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account once again run out of money. We’ll be keeping the pressure on Congress to take real action. Stay tuned for updates on what’s happening in Washington, and how you can help keep them focused on the real goal.
  • Houston Launches Reconceived Transit System

    Last month, Houston officially approved an entirely redesigned bus system that will better serve residents today—and lay the groundwork for future expansion. Drawing on a new grid design, Houston’s Metro service will use the current bus fleet to provide more efficient and frequent service without incurring additional fixed costs.

    Why Change?

    Houston Metro launched in the 1970s—and a lot has changed since then. The city has grown and a light rail system—now with three lines—has been added. The local bus system needed to address the growth of the city and changing travel habits. City leaders and transit planners recognized that Metro could better serve a larger share of area residents by making substantial changes to the system.

    To develop and refine the new transit system, Metro planners sought input from a diverse array of community members. All told, more than 110 organizations, agencies, and local governments were invited to help shape the plan.

    Emphasizing Fundamentals

    At its heart, the new plan aims to serve more people—to provide more service, more frequently, that matches where and when people travel. Key aspects of the new plan include:

    • Access—Under the old Metro system, about 534,000 lived within a half-mile of bus service. The new system increases that number to more than 1.1 million people. The number of jobs within a half-mile of service will increase by an estimated 55%.
    • Simplicity—For many, the old system was too complex. The new system will have simpler, straighter routes and more reliable, consistent service.
    • Frequency—The most heavily used routes will now operate 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, with buses running at 15-minute intervals or less. Notably, Metro is expanding weekend service, recognizing that people need to travel every day.
    • Connections—Metro will enable stronger connections between buses and between bus and light rail.

    What's Next?

    Houston Metro’s goal is to have the new system up and running by August of this year. While no new buses will be added, Metro must replace every single bus stop sign, move and install new bus shelters, and print new schedules and information. Metro will also launch a massive public education campaign.

    As part of the new plan, Metro has also created a framework for allocating funding for system expansion. As more dollars become available—and as the city grows—Metro will be prepared to expand service in ways that make the best use of resources.

  • #StuckInTraffic Twitter Town Hall Shows Momentum for a Transportation Solution

    On February 11, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx appeared before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to lay out the Obama administration’s vision for American transportation. Then, as soon as the hearing was over, he and Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA) hopped onto a national Twitter Town Hall to listen and answer questions from anyone on Twitter.

    Consensus for Long-term Transportation Funding

    Over 90 minutes, more than 1,000 tweets were posted with the town hall hashtag #StuckInTraffic. Individuals and organizations shared ideas, raised concerns, and asked questions. The tweet traffic made it clear that a diverse range of voices want to see America’s transportation infrastructure crisis addressed.

    Notably, two key business organizations—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)—as well as the American Public Transportation Association participated in the town hall and voiced their support for a renewed and increased federal commitment to transportation infrastructure. The Chamber tweeted, “Federal #highway & #transit programs are integral to economic growth across the U.S.; more investment is better for America.” The NAM posted several infographics and highlighted that transportation infrastructure projects will “add 1.3 million jobs at the onset.”

    Though Foxx and Shuster represent different political parties, they supported each other’s points and sounded determined to find a bipartisan solution. In response to a question about the duration of a transportation bill, Shuster underscored that it is “ESSENTIAL to have long-term bill. 5-6 years is what we should look at.” Secretary Foxx emphasized that “Multimodal IS the future. Finding new ways to move people, products will increase flows—rail, transit, highways—we need it all.”

    Americans Voice Their Transportation Priorities

    The #StuckInTraffic Twitter town hall gave every participant a chance to share ideas, information, and concerns. Several themes emerged, including:

    • Access - Several participants highlighted the need for fair public transportation access for all, including underserved communities, rural Americans, and seniors.
    • Safety - During the town hall, we heard a lot about safety and the need for “Complete Streets,” which serve cars, public transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
    • Economic Opportunity - Lots of tweeters highlighted the economic benefits that come from investments in transportation, including public transit. The American Planning Association, for instance, noted that Cleveland’s investment in bus rapid transit (BRT) resulted in $5 billion in economic development and 4,000 new housing units.

    These points—and many others—make the case for renewed federal support for public transportation. The message is getting through, but we can still do more.

    Advice from Chairman Shuster: Contact Your Members of Congress

    One tweeter asked what Americans can do to improve their commutes? Chairman Shuster had a blunt answer: “Encourage your members [of Congress] to improve ALL modes so they work together as 1 system, instead of many.” We agree. April 9 is national Stand Up for Transportation Day and public transportation supporters across the country will be calling on Congress—by phone, by email, on social media, and in person—to finally move forward with a large-scale plan to improve and transform American public transportation. In the meantime, you can send an email NOW at the Voices for Public Transit Action Center.

  • International Models for Public Transportation: Improvements in Copenhagen

    When we look around the globe, we see several regions that are building entirely new transportation systems. But there are also great examples of cities and regions that are improving on what they already have. For the U.S.—which has some form of public transportation in almost every region of the country—we should seek out strong models for expanding and improving already established systems. Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen offers just such an example.

    Improving Established Infrastructure

    Copenhagen’s urban rail “S-train” network has been operating since 1934. (The nationwide train system goes back to the 1800s.) It connects outlying regions of the city and suburbs to the city center. While the S-train network is similar to an American commuter rail system, trains run frequently—at least every ten minutes during working hours—and have stops spaced just 2 kilometers apart, on average.

    While the S-train operates like a subway within the heart of Copenhagen, the city wanted to provide further transportation options, especially for people living in a growing outlying area called Ørestad. After considering many options, planners settled on a light rapid transit system, called the Copenhagen Metro, that uses short three-car driverless trains. Smaller trains, smaller stations, and driverless systems help contain long-term costs and enable frequent service 24/7. The system launched in 2003, and an expansion is slated to open in 2019.

    Even though Copenhagen had the S-train system—as well as buses—planners recognized that the metropolitan area was continuing to grow and public transportation needed to expand as well. Though light rapid transit had higher upfront costs than other options, such as a tram network, planners determined that this type of system would provide better value in the long run—and it has.

    Technology as a Game-Changer

    Inconvenience and inefficiency are challenges public transportation systems must continually confront and overcome. People may want to ride, but they don’t want to wait. Navigating multiple ticketing systems—or even finding correct change—is also a hassle that can discourage the use of public transportation.

    Copenhagen recognized that investments in technology, combined with the spread of smart phones, can help address these challenges. The city now has an integrative ticketing system that enables riders to move seamlessly between different modes of transportation. Riders can find real-time information on their phones and purchase tickets through a smart phone app or even text message.

    The city’s transportation network also supports commuting by bicycle. Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Metro stations have bike-parking facilities to support multi-modal transportation. Bicycling is central to transportation planning, not an afterthought, and the city has a goal that 50 percent of commuters will use bicycles to reach work or school. Bicycling and public transportation have already significantly cut the city’s pollution.

    Takeaways from Copenhagen

    Though Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and the country’s largest city, its metropolitan area, with a population of about 2 million people, is roughly the size of metropolitan areas like Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; or Las Vegas. Robust public transportation has a place not just in mega-cities, but in more modest-size cities and smaller communities as well.

    Copenhagen’s public transportation also makes some other key takeaways clear:

    • Planning and investment for the long term pay dividends
    • Even if you already have public transportation, you must commit to maintenance, growth, and expansion as populations expand and needs change
    • The smart use of technology can improve public transportation and increase ridership, which means a bigger return on investment for the local economy
    • Public transportation works best when it is integrated with other forms of transportation, such as bicycling or rideshare programs

    Congress should not simply fund public transportation. It should also support sound strategies that get the most out of our public investment. Some of those strategies can be found in the example of Copenhagen.

  • Highlights of President Obama’s Transportation Proposal

    Earlier this month, President Obama released his budget proposal, which includes a $478 billion, six-year proposal for transportation funding. The President’s proposal is certain to be met with counter-proposals from Congress, but it provides a good starting point for negotiations.

    Fundamentally, the President is proposing what Voices for Public Transit advocates for—long-term, stable funding for American transportation, including public transit. But beyond this big picture, here are some highlights that stand out:

    • Increased Funding for Public Transportation—At its heart, the proposed budget calls for a solid 75% increase in public transportation investment over current levels. The President proposes budgeting $123 billion over six years for the maintenance, improvement, and expansion of public transportation systems.
    • Competitive TIGER Grants—The proposal increases the highly successful TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program to $1.25 billion annually. These competitively bid grants enable communities to earn funding for innovative transportation programs. The $1.25 billion still falls far short of demand—which was $9.5 billion last year—but it’s a step in the right direction. (For more on TIGER grants, see our blog post, “USDOT Awards TIGER Grants for Public Transportation Projects.”)
    • Streamlined Project Reviews and Regulation—The budget includes reforms to improve how government operates. Planning and funding major public transportation projects is a complex process. Policy changes will improve coordination among government agencies and strengthen decision-making at the local level.
    How Will Congress Respond?

    The ball is now in Congress’s court. President Obama has offered his vision for American transportation, but any final plan must come from Congress. It is certain that Congress will not accept the President’s proposal wholesale—but which components will they keep?

    When Voices for Public Transit participates in Stand Up for Transportation Day on April 9, we should be ready to highlight what matters to us. You can use examples from this post and find others by reviewing the budget highlight documents listed below.

    Related Reading: U.S. Department of Transportation Budget Highlights Fiscal Year 2016 U.S. Department of Transportation FY 2016 Budget Fact Sheet