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 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.

  • BART Turns to Voters to Fund Repairs and Improvements

    On June 9, California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) announced that its Board of Directors had voted unanimously 9-0 to place a $3.5 billion “BART Safety, Reliability, and Traffic Relief Program” bond measure on the November ballot. For it to pass, voters in the three counties served by BART must support the measure by a two-thirds vote.

    The funds provided by the bond would lay the groundwork for rebuilding and improving this critical public transportation system that currently runs 107 miles through San Francisco, Oakland, and surrounding cities and suburbs.

    What Improvements Will Be Funded

    The core operational components of BART’s existing system need to be replaced or upgraded. Here’s where most of the $3.5 billion will go:

    • New Train Controls and Signals — BART’s current hard-wired, circuit-controlled signaling system will be replaced with a state-of-the-art communications-based control system.
    • Electrical System — Electrified third rails, substations, cable, and circuitry will be replaced.
    • Track Replacement and Tunnel Repair — 90 miles of deteriorating track will be replaced. Deteriorating structures, especially leaking tunnels, also need repairs.
    • Accessibility Improvements — Roughly 10 percent of funds will go toward “improving accessibility and crowding,” including additional bike racks.

    The funding unfortunately will not cover system extensions. In fact, the funding covers only a portion of the $5 billion in capital expenditures that are anticipated over the next decade.

    While the bond measure will not allow BART to cover more miles, it will enable greater capacity. The new train control system, together with enhanced traction power and new train cars, will increase train capacity by 25 percent.

    BART Does Much More than Move Riders

    BART is an essential contributor to the Bay Area’s economy and quality of life. It not only enables hundreds of thousands of people to reach work, school, and other destinations, it also helps reduce traffic on the Bay Area’s highly congested roadways and supports healthier, cleaner air for the entire Bay Area.

    BART is an engine to the entire regional economy. “A healthy economy in [San Francisco] requires a healthy BART system, they are interlinked,” said Jason Elliott, Deputy Chief of Staff to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

    Public Transit Funding Measures Deserve Our Vote

    The proposed bond measure deserves the vote of every area citizen, even those who don’t ride. High ridership and fare revenues have enabled BART to fund several initiatives without turning to a bond measure. For instance, BART has already embarked on upgrading its fleet. But the need for replacing much of the system’s infrastructure cannot be met by revenue growth alone. In addition, though Congress passed the FAST Act last year, federal and state funding support for BART has declined, even as ridership has increased.

    The funding picture is similar in other areas: there is greater demand for public transit with limited resources provided by the state and federal government. The best option for many transit systems is to turn directly to voters and ask for support. Funding public transportation is an investment that makes sense for communities. It returns dividends by supporting not only jobs and economic growth, but also public health, cleaner air, and a better quality of life.

  • Innovations in Public Transit: Florida Transit Systems Add Rideshare Service

    Public transportation is changing for the better. Innovative technologies and emerging partnerships between public transit agencies and private companies are creating new, improved services aimed at increasing ridership and efficiencies.

    Thanks to these bold efforts, public transit is becoming more accessible to more people in communities of all sizes — from new, on-demand bus services that are bringing bus service to suburban neighborhoods to collaboration with ridesharing companies to extend transit agency services into more communities. Any way you slice it, it’s an exciting time for public transit.

    One Florida System’s Challenge: Budgets Limit Hours and Geographic Reach

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) provides bus and paratransit services to the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as several towns, suburbs, and unincorporated areas. While PSTA provides more the 45,000 rides daily — nearly 15 million annually — budget constraints have limited geographic coverage in some areas, as well as hours of operation. As a result, many residents lack access to public transportation when and where they need it.

    This is a particular challenge for those who cannot drive or do not have access to a private vehicle. In addition, workers with late night and graveyard shifts, such as hotel and restaurant employees, cannot use public transportation for at least one leg of their commute.

    Extending Service by Partnering with Uber

    PSTA, like most public transit systems in the U.S., faces the “first mile/last mile” challenge: that is, figuring out how to serve people who still need to cover a mile or more to reach their destinations from the nearest bus stop.

    In February 2016, PSTA launched an innovative pilot program — called “Direct Connect” — to help address this challenge. The system partnered with rideshare company Uber, as well as a local taxi company, to provide rides to and from bus stops within two underserved zones. PSTA covers half of the fare, up to $3. The idea is that once a rider can reach a bus stop, the entire region becomes accessible. PSTA is the first transit system in America to subsidize Uber fares for riders.

    In June, PSTA announced that it will expand its partnership with Uber to provide 24/7 public transit for lower-income residents, beginning August 1. The new “Transportation Disadvantaged” program will offer qualified area residents 23 free Uber rides per month between the hours of 9PM and 6AM, when most PSTA buses are not available. One free daytime ride per month is available as well.

    Riders can use an Uber app to request a ride, but they can also use a special telephone dispatch service if they lack a smartphone — or do not have a credit card to set up an Uber account.

    Other transit systems are now considering or testing similar “shared mobility” transit solutions that combine public and private transportation. New transportation services that leverage mobile, GPS, and other technologies can essentially extend the reach and hours of public transportation without the need to add fixed routes.

    Do you think your local public transit system could benefit from a “shared mobility” partnership? Share your thoughts with our community.

  • Your Stories Make Our (Birth)Day

    Voices for Public Transit is celebrating our third birthday all month!

    Our community launched in July 2013 to bring attention to the need to improve and expand America’s public transportation network. Last year, we hit two major milestones:

    • Our nationwide membership reached 200,000
    • Your actions helped propel the FAST Act to passage

    What’s especially great about our community is how diverse we are. Public transportation benefits everyone, and our membership proves it — with folks from large cities and small towns, young people and older Americans, riders and non-riders all working together to support public transit.

    Your Stories Show the Value of Public Transit

    Our birthday celebration is a celebration of you — our members! With that in mind, here are just a few stories that we’ve heard from Voices for Public Transit advocates that highlight the value of public transportation.

    Public Transportation Helps Us…

    Connect with Our Communities

    Riding the [Boston] “T” has not only saved me more money than I can count, it has also meant new friends, a healthier way of life, and helped me realize how lucky I am to be living in a state with strong support for public transportation.

    Adam T., Massachusetts

    The local bus gets me where I need to go, when I need to get there - but it does a lot more. Many lasting friendships started with riding together.

    Ken D., New York

    Save Money

    Thanks to my town’s public transit, I can put my bike on the bus and get anywhere I need to go. As a school teacher, I can’t afford to spend $10k a year on a car. It has been completely life changing to me to live in a town with public transit so that I don't have to own a car. It is completely liberating!

    Mary M., South Carolina

    I'm on a fixed income, and I cannot afford the expense of a personal vehicle, as much as I'd love to have an economical car again. So, I rely on my local bus system. I'm thankful to have public transportation in my area.

    Dawn F., Pennsylvania

    Overcome Disabilities

    My son is blind and uses public transportation to get to work, church, entertainment and shopping. This is important for so many reasons.

    Marcia M., Texas

    Due to a visual impairment, I cannot drive a car. Therefore, I'd be unemployed with no income if it weren't for public transit to get me back and forth to my two part-time jobs.

    Darrel F., Illinois

    I have severe anxiety, ADHD, Asperger’s, and therefore take a lot of medication for those conditions. As a result, I cannot drive because it would be too dangerous for both me as well as people around me…. Using public transportation helps me with my independence and my life as a whole.

    Christopher C., Texas

    I'm a female disabled vet. I have no working car. Without public transit I would not be able to get to medical care, or to my part-time work, or to see my friends. Public transit is my lifeline.

    Karen D., California

    Get to School and Work

    I'm a single mom on disability going to college on my own and supporting a teenage girl on my own so I need the bus to get to school and home. If I didn't have the bus, I couldn't go back to school.

    Jennifer S., California

    Public transit makes it possible for me to reach my office, which is in the suburbs!

    Jeffrey S., Illinois

    I don't have a car and can’t afford one. I use the bus to get to work, grocery shop and run my other errands. I moved to Colorado because I was told that you could get anywhere on the bus or light rail, and it’s true.

    Clarice D., Colorado

    These are just a small sampling of the many stories we’ve received. Other public transportation supporters highlighted the benefits to our broader economy, the environment, and older Americans.

    Help Us Improve

    For our third birthday, Voices for Public Transit is making a resolution: We resolve to keep growing and making our community stronger. You can help us improve by taking our Member Survey. It takes just a few minutes to complete and gives you a chance to share what’s important to you and how we can help.

  • Vote to Help Your Public Transit Wishes Come True

    Thank you to all the Voices for Public Transit members who have shared their public transportation wish list with us!

    We’ve heard lots of ideas for improving public transportation, and today we’re rounding up the major themes we’re seeing in our members’ wish lists for public transit in their areas.

    Local public transit systems work hard to meet the needs of their riders, but there’s only so much they can do with limited funds. As FAST Act funding begins to reach communities nationwide, these are some areas that local public transit systems could focus on to continue expanding and improving their service.

    “We have some streets where buses only run once an hour even though these are fairly busy….We also need more frequency and reliability on many other routes throughout the city and access into a booming connected suburb city… I feel our city needs more buses, reliability and frequency that goes further into the evening.”

    - Andrew B., New Mexico

    “One thing on my list is more public bathrooms or at least porta potties along the route. Your transit can take longer than an hour or so and it can be distressing for the elderly or pregnant [women].”

    - Catherine D., California

    “Bus stops need to be totally accessible to those in wheelchairs & using walkers. More shelters are needed.”

    - Sandra S., Florida

    “In our parish of St. John the Baptist in Louisiana there is only one source of public transportation. It's [an on-demand bus service] that must be scheduled 24 hours in advance. Hwy 61 is the main highway and if they just had one or two public buses that ran routes along that highway, a lot of people who don't have transportation would be helped tremendously… Businesses would thrive and unemployment would drop.”

    - Natalie A., Louisiana

    Turning Wishes into Reality

    Local public transit systems want to provide all of these things and more. Voices for Public Transit members know that a lack of consistent, sufficient public investment in transportation is one of the leading obstacles to making these improvements a reality.

    So, how do we make these public transit wishes come true? Speak out, get involved, and, most importantly, VOTE!

    Our community poll indicates roughly 70 percent of Voices for Public Transit members are aware of public transit ballot measures or initiatives. More than 95 percent of members have expressed their support of these initiatives, giving supporters of public transit good reason to be hopeful for the future.

    Remember, public transportation improvements almost always require funding. Some dollars will come from the federal FAST Act, but local regions must raise their own funding, too. In November, several regions, such as the San Francisco Bay Area and Marion County, Indiana (greater Indianapolis), will have public transportation funding measures on the ballot.

    Get out and vote for the public transit measures, referenda, or ballot initiatives in your area, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do so as well. By making our voices heard at the ballot box, we can all help expand and improve public transit options in more communities nationwide.

  • Innovations in Public Transit: West Salem Connector’s Flexible On-Demand Service

    Voices for Public Transit is excited to launch our new Innovations in Public Transit series. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be highlighting local examples of how public transportation is evolving around the country and the new technologies public transit systems are trying out to keep people moving.

    One innovative project that challenges traditional perceptions of public transit can be found in the Pacific Northwest.

    On-Demand Service Works for Oregon’s Capital

    Every community can benefit from public transportation, but no single type of public transit works everywhere. People in smaller towns, suburbs, and rural areas need mobility as much as people in large cities, but high-capacity vehicles — such as trains — are impractical. Even traditional bus systems do not make sense for every community, given limitations of geography, population density, and funding.

    In Oregon’s Salem-Keizer area, including state capital Salem (pop. 160,600), there is strong demand for public transportation, but this demand is not uniform across the region. Salem-Keizer Transit — better known as “Cherriots” — has operated a regional bus system since 1979 and also provides paratransit service to people with disabilities.

    In 2015, facing budget constraints and recognizing that two fixed bus routes were underutilized in the West Salem area, Cherriots made the difficult decision to cut the routes. Yet, Cherriots still needed to serve West Salem residents who rely on public transportation. How could they continue to meet the needs of riders and offer service in a hilly area with winding streets that did not easily accommodate traditional bus service? Technology — and a new concept — offered a solution.

    Following the Example of Rideshare Services

    On June 1, 2015, Cherriots introduced its West Salem Connector service:

    • A New Approach. Rather than following a fixed route, mini Connector buses pick up riders at any one of 26 Connector points spread throughout the area. The Connector vehicles transport passengers to any other Connector point, including three points that connect to traditional fixed bus routes. Riders can then travel via regular bus to downtown Salem.
    • Added Convenience. Passengers can book rides online via computer or smartphone — similar to private rideshare services like Uber. Rides can also be booked by calling a local number and speaking to a customer service representative. Passengers can schedule their pick-up from a half-hour to two weeks in advance; they can also schedule recurring trips. At the most utilized Connector point, walk-on passengers can also board without scheduling in advance.
    • Advanced Technology and Mobile Data Connections. While on-demand transit has been around a long time, these services often require rides to be scheduled one or two days in advance. The West Salem Connector can process requests and route drivers in near real-time thanks to the system’s incorporation of new, innovative technologies.

    The flexibility and efficiency of the West Salem Connector could become a model for other regions of similar size or facing similar geographic challenges. Topeka and suburban Chicago transit systems have already adopted similar technology. Should your community be next?

    Join in the conversation. Share with our community what innovations and new ideas are being deployed in your area — or what changes you would like to see.

  • Advocate spotlight

    Mirta M.

    There is a point in everyone’s life in which driving becomes difficult or simply has to stop all together due to normal aging (vision and minor neurological and metabolic impairments could deter persons from driving).

    Read More

  • Share Your Experience

    Tell us why you support investments in public transportation for your community.

    Make your story available for use?