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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»

  • End Game: Will Congress Pass Increased Public Transit Funding?

    Select members of the House and Senate—and their staffs—are working to hammer out a compromise between the two chambers’ versions of a long-term transportation bill.

    Negotiators couldn’t quite meet a deadline before Thanksgiving, so Congress passed one more very short-term extension for our nation’s transportation system. The new deadline is Friday, December 4.

    Though we may be nearing the end of a years-long process, many decisions remain in flux. The key question for Voices for Public Transit and other transportation advocates is this:

    Will the final bill include increased funding for public transportation?

    Even at this late point in the process, the answer to this fundamental question remains uncertain. Of the options being considered by negotiators, we believe the best path forward is a fully funded five-year transportation bill that includes increased funding for public transit.

    Week of Action

    After Thanksgiving recess, Congress will return to work on November 30—and Voices for Public Transit will be engaging in a week of action.

    Each day leading up to the December 4 deadline, our community will be raising our voices to deliver this core message: Congress needs to pass a fully funded transportation bill that makes a substantial investment in public transportation. Simply maintaining the status quo is not sufficient.

    We wish our entire community a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we can celebrate again when Congress completes its work on a long-term transportation bill.
  • House Passes Long-Term Transportation Bill

    On Thursday, November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term, bipartisan transportation bill—the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015—by a margin of 363 – 64. The House and Senate have now both passed their versions of long-term transportation legislation—now the real work begins.

    Immediately afterwards, the House voted to go to a Conference Committee with the Senate, where both chambers will reconcile the differences between their respective bills. While details of the House-passed bill are still emerging, here’s what we know so far:

    • The bill includes nearly $340 billion of funding for “transportation and infrastructure programs to address the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges.

    • The Senate bill only provides funding for the first three years. While the House version likely funds all six years of their plan, both bills fall short of APTA’s proposed funding levels.

    • Congress has until November 20 to pass a final bill. With the House only in session for one week between now and then, there is a chance we will see another short-term extension this year.

    It’s definitely good news that the House has moved forward with a multi-year transportation bill. And we couldn’t have gotten this far without the hard work and dedication of all our Voices for Public Transit members—so thank you for all your efforts over the past several months!

    However, Voices for Public Transit believes we need even more funding for public transit. Maintaining our current public transit infrastructure isn’t enough—we need to strengthen and expand public transit in communities nationwide. That’s why it’s so important for us to make our voices heard in the next two weeks to ensure Congress funds public transit at the highest possible level.

    We have a small window of opportunity to influence our legislators to ensure they fund public transit to the fullest possible extent. Take two minutes today to call on Congress to increase investment in public transit.

    Stay tuned—you’ll be hearing from us a lot over the next two weeks. And with your help, we will get a good, long-term transportation bill with increased investment in public transit passed this year.

  • This Short-term Extension Could Be the Last

    On October 27 and 28, respectively, the U.S. House and Senate both passed three-week extension of the current Highway Transportation Fund authorization, giving themselves until November 20 to iron out the differences in their respective versions of a three-year, comprehensive bill and send a final bill to President Obama for his signature before the end of November.

    Where Things Stand Now

    On October 22, by a unanimous vote, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved multi-year transportation legislation, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (STRR Act; H.R. 3763). The legislation is now awaiting a full House vote, which we anticipate will happen by early the first week of November. Similar to the Senate bill passed earlier this summer, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act; S. 1647), the House bill provides three years of funding, with the possibility of extending for another three years if Congress can find additional funding.

    The House bill is not an ideal solution because it does not meaningfully increase the federal investment in public transportation, and it does not give public transit equal priority with other forms of transportation. Nonetheless, this recent House action represents a key step forward, as the House and Senate can now work to iron out the differences between the two bills and pass a comprehensive transportation bill this year.

    Funding for the long-term bills remains a sticking point that will have to be hammered out during negotiations between the House and Senate.

    What We’ll Be Looking for in Final Negotiations

    As the legislation moves to final negotiations, Voices for Public Transit will be calling on Members of Congress to ensure two key things happen:

    • Public transportation is funded at the highest possible levels (at least as high as outlined in the Senate bill).
    • Public transportation is treated equally with other forms of transportation when it comes to how much the federal government will contribute to local infrastructure projects.

    We know it’s been a long road so far, but we are incredibly hopeful that all the effort you’ve put in over the past several months will be worth it as Congress is closer than ever before to passing comprehensive transportation legislation. After all, we’ve reached this point—perhaps the last mile of a very long journey—thanks to all of the hard work of the Voices for Public Transit community. We’ll keep you posted about progress on Capitol Hill. Please keep raising your voices to push long-term legislation over the finish line.

  • Public Transit Helps Seniors Get Around

    A guest post from Carol B., Voices for Public Transit member in Pennsylvania

    As a senior citizen who relies on public transit to get around my hometown of Philadelphia, it is very important to me that buses and trains remain accessible and affordable.

    For over 20 years, I have ridden the city buses and the el train on the SEPTA system; in fact, there are two bus lines that stop right in front of my apartment building. I work from home as a digital journalist and use public transit when I have errands to run or events to attend.

    The Benefits of Public Transportation

    Middle class people like me cannot always afford to have a car or pay for daily parking in the city if they do own one. People from all walks of life rely on public transit to get them to work, school, and around town on errands, but mainly, it is middle-class people who rely on it the most.

    One of the wonderful things about public transit in Philadelphia is that senior citizens can ride for free, on an unlimited basis. This program is funded by the state lottery. Now that I am in that age group, I take full advantage of this perk and tout its benefits. As someone who often rides trains and buses alone, I also appreciate that the public transit system in Philadelphia has always been safe for me.

    What Needs to Change

    It is important for legislators to understand that thousands of people around Philadelphia, and millions of people in this country, rely on public transit every day. Public transportation funding and maintenance should be a high-level priority for our legislators. It’s high time that this topic gets the attention it deserves.

  • Top 10 Reasons for Congress to Increase Our Nation’s Investment in Public Transportation

    Sometimes, Congress works—or doesn’t work—in mysterious ways. Take public transportation funding, for example. For more than six years, Congress has been unable to pass a long-term transportation bill with increased funding for public transportation.

    There are many, many reasons for Congress to increase federal support for public transportation. Below, we share our top 10 reasons why Congress should move forward and pass a bill that increases America’s investment in public transportation.

    We support an increased investment in public transportation because it…

    1. Serves all constituents — Public transportation is a cornerstone of America’s multi-modal transportation network, which also includes roads, bridges, and ports. We all need to be mobile—and even if you don’t use public transit, you still benefit from less traffic, less air pollution, and improved transportation of goods.
    2. Anticipates the growth of our nation — In a few decades, America will exceed 400 million people. We cannot simply add more roads to keep people moving. Shared, public transportation must be part of the solution as well.
    3. Fulfills Congress’s historical and Constitutional responsibilities — Throughout American history, the federal government has supported transportation systems for all of our use.
    4. Fosters job growth — 73 percent of funds for public transportation create and support private-sector jobs. In addition, public transportation lines and hubs draw further investment, which leads to additional job growth.
    5. Pays off in the form of economic development — People increasingly want to live and work near public transportation—and businesses want public transportation to be an option for their employees. This means that investment and opportunity emerge alongside public transit projects.
    6. Helps disadvantaged Americans — A lot of people have transportation options, but for millions of Americans who cannot drive due to age, disability, or poverty, public transit is the only option for mobility.
    7. Improves overall transportation safety — Compared to transportation by private car, public transit has fewer accidents that result in injury or death. A greater investment in public transit will make this safer form of travel available to more Americans.
    8. Helps limit air pollution — By taking cars off the road, public transit helps reduce air pollution. In addition, many public transit vehicles are electrified or use alternative fuels, which also helps our environment. Cleaner air, of course, benefits everybody.
    9. Reduces road congestion — Traffic congestion is already bad in cities of all sizes, and even in suburbs and smaller towns. Using public transit, more people can travel on less road space. Investing in expanded public transit will help ease road congestion—or at least slow the pace at which traffic worsens.
    10. Exemplifies bipartisanship and stands as an accomplishment going into an election year — Congress should seize the opportunity to show that it can unite on behalf of the American people by passing a long-term transportation bill that benefits everybody.

    Share with Others—and with Congress

    Do you agree with this list of reasons for Congress to support an increased investment in public transportation? Do you have other ideas? Share what you think by commenting on Public Transportation’s Facebook page or letting us know on Twitter by using the #Voices4Transit hashtag.

    Members of Congress and their staff also pay attention to what’s happening on social media. Post your favorite reasons on the Facebook timeline of your members of Congress or tweet @ your member. (You can search for their Twitter handles right from Twitter’s home page or look at C-SPAN’s list.)

  • Countdown to October 29 Transportation Deadline

    Thousands of Voices for Public Transit Advocates Share Their Views with Congress

    The U.S. House of Representatives is moving forward with its version of a multi-year transportation bill, which will include provisions for roads, bridges, and public transit. While it is far from a perfect bill, it is at least reassuring to know that there is finally movement on the issue in the House.

    Here’s a quick recap of where current transportation legislation stands:

    • On October 16, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released bipartisan legislation to authorize federal public transportation and highway programs for six years. However, like the Senate’s version, funding is only likely to be guaranteed for three years.
    • On October 22, the Committee will debate and “mark up” its version of a long-term transportation bill—and then likely pass it out of committee and on to the whole House. This critical action comes just one week before the current short-term transportation bill expires.
    • If the bill passes the House, it will likely be reconciled with the Senate’s version in a “conference committee.” Both chambers of Congress, however, still need to determine how their plans will be funded. While progress is being made, funding could be a sticking point.

    Despite this progress toward passage of a long-term transportation bill—which hasn’t happened in more than a decade—we’re likely to see Congress pass one more short-term extension. There is just too much work left before the October 29 deadline.

    Congress Responds to Growing Pressure

    The fact is, the transportation crisis has become an issue that Congress cannot ignore any longer. Business and labor leaders, state and local elected officials, and many others have united to tell Congress that long-term federal support for our transportation infrastructure is essential for our economy, our communities, and our way of life.

    It almost goes without saying that the Voices for Public Transit community has played a fundamental role in spurring Congress to take action. Here’s some of what we’ve done:

    • More than 7,700 emails have been sent to Congress.
    • 712 Voices for Public Transit advocates sent customized emails emphasizing what matters most to them about public transportation.
    • More than 3,802 letters to editors have been sent to newspapers all around the country.
    • Hundreds of Voices for Public Transit advocates attended our first-ever telephone town hall.

    Last year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “The country needs to get a little noisier” to compel Congress to pass a long-term bill. Our community has responded to this challenge. We got a lot noisier—and now we appear to be on the home stretch toward passage of a comprehensive transportation bill.

    Nice work…now let’s keep pushing Congress.

  • Voices for Public Transit Speak Out in our Telephone Town Hall

    On October 14, Voices for Public Transit held our first-ever telephone town hall, “The Fight for Public Transit Funding.”

    The town hall was hosted by Rose Sheridan, Voices for Public Transit Community Leader, and we were joined by Michael Melaniphy, President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. He brought passion and expertise to his discussion of what’s happening in Washington with the transportation debate—and what’s at stake if Congress fails to act.

    If were unable to make our telephone town hall, you can listen to a full audio recording of the event here.

    Where We Stand

    The good news, according to Melaniphy, is that Congress is on a solid path toward passing a bill. Although he acknowledged that Congress will likely miss the October 29 deadline and pass one more short-term bill, he said, “I feel confident we’re going to see a long-term bill.”

    The bad news is that we are long overdue—six years overdue, in fact—for a long-term transportation bill. As Melaniphy detailed, there is a substantial backlog of deferred maintenance that must be addressed, “at least $86 billion in needed bus and rail maintenance alone.”

    Melaniphy discussed a number of ways that public transit services will be put in jeopardy without federal support. As many as “66 new public transit projects could be stalled…projects that serve as a catalyst for economic development in every region of our nation.”

    On the other hand, we could see large-scale improvements in public transportation if Congress passes a substantial bill with multi-year funding. Most importantly, public transportation could reach more communities and more people. A long-term bill would “mean more public transit in small towns and rural areas, as well as cities and suburbs.”

    Throughout the call, Melaniphy repeatedly emphasized that public transit advocates must keep sharing their views with Congress, especially House members, saying: “You’ve got to keep it up…. Give them a story about why it matters to you and your community.”

    What We Learned about Voices for Public Transit

    A large portion of the telephone town hall was taken up by a Q&A period, with public transit advocates from all around the country asking questions and sharing their stories. Melaniphy fielded questions about the future of high-speed rail, public transit in rural communities, funding sources, and other topics.

    An informal poll was also conducted during the town hall, which asked, “How often do you ride public transit?” The results were interesting, showing a great range of use among the Voices for Public Transit community:

    • 13% use public transit at least once per week
    • 40% use it more than once a week
    • 27% use public transit occasionally, but less than once a week
    • 20% don’t use public transit at all 

    These figures underscore the fact that public transit benefits everyone—whether you use it or not. 

    The Key Takeaway—Call Congress!

    The main takeaway from the tele-town hall was clear: NOW is the time for our community to push Congress to reach the finish line on long-term transportation funding. In Melaniphy’s words, we must tell our elected officials that we “expect Congress to put America’s transportation back on track.”

    If you missed the town hall, you can call your legislators now and share your views by dialing the Voices for Public Transit Legislative Hotline at (888) 443-5862. When you call the hotline, you’ll receive brief instructions and then you’ll be connected right to the offices of your Members of Congress.

    Again, thank you to everyone who participated in our first-ever telephone town hall and helped make it such a success. 

  • Join Voices for Public Transit’s Telephone Town Hall October 14

    Tomorrow, October 14, Voices for Public Transit will be holding our first-ever telephone town hall. Please join us to learn what’s happening in Washington—and what could happen when the current short-term transportation funding expires on October 29.

    Here are the details…

    The Fight for Public Transit Funding
    Featuring Michael Melaniphy, CEO of the American Public Transportation Association
    Wednesday, October 14
    2:00 PM EDT
    1:00 PM CDT
    12:00 PM MDT
    11:00 AM PDT

    If you have not registered in advance to join the call, you can dial in directly on Wednesday using the following information:

         Toll-free number: 877-229-8493
         Event PIN: 114656

    In addition to hearing an update about the state of the public transportation debate in Washington, you’ll have a chance to ask questions and hear from other public transit advocates around the country.

    We’re at a critical juncture in America’s conversation about the future of our nation’s transportation network.

    We hope you’ll join this town hall, learn valuable information, and emerge fired up to help make the final push toward passage of a long-term transportation bill with greater investment in public transit.


  • Public Transit Drives Efficiency, Innovation

    A guest post from Matthew O., Voices for Public Transit member in North Carolina

    As a 28-year-old resident of Wilmington, North Carolina, I rely heavily on my car. Working in the residential construction industry, I am in my car several hours per day, traveling between job sites. Unfortunately, Wilmington does not have a robust public transportation system. I wish they did because I am a big fan of sustainable, green living, and public transit is a big part of that lifestyle.

    Congress Needs to Think Big

    After earning my Associates in Applied Sciences with a focus on solar power and green building, I learned a lot about the great work being done to develop new and innovative public transit methods.

    Our legislators need to take a look at funding more ideas that will not only help us expand the public transit system in the United States but also make it more efficient and user-friendly. What we have is neither practical nor efficient enough to sustain the millions of people who rely on public transit, or those like me, who would take full advantage of it if they had the chance.

    Public Transit Drives Efficiency

    Here in Wilmington, we have public buses, several of which are hybrid or run on natural gas. That’s a step in the right direction. However, I am a big fan of rail, and that is something we just don’t have access to in our area.

    It would be extremely efficient to have a bullet train or hyperloop to Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte from Wilmington; on the East Coast as a whole, it would be game-changing to have a bullet train running all the way up the coast, to Maine. In fact, I travel to Maine regularly, and it takes me 18 hours to drive there. I would much rather get on a train and relax during the trip than spend the time and energy to drive such a long distance.

    It would also be great to see more electric vehicles incorporated into local public transit services. The efficiency of public transit is critical because people can always earn more money, but they can never get their time back.

    Now is the time to get the public and the government focused on public transit innovation in the United States.

  • ICYMI: News and Blogosphere Highlight Value of Public Transit Investment

    Pressure Mounts for Congress to Pass Long-Term Bill

    With another short-term transportation bill due to expire in just weeks, we’re seeing lots of organizations and media outlets covering the crisis.

    The core message of this coverage is clear: Congress must pass long-term transportation funding to support infrastructure improvements that are critical to our economy, our safety, and our way of life.

    Here’s a roundup of thoughtful pieces over the last few weeks. You can borrow these pieces’ arguments and proof points when you talk with friends, family, co-workers, and others about the need for Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. And share the best points when you email your members of Congress and tell them to get the job done.

    At the very least, a great deal of public, media, and lawmaker attention is now focused on the need for dependable transportation funding extending for several years. We also think that many members of Congress don’t want transportation funding to still be unresolved next Congress.

    To learn more about the state of play in Washington, join us on October 14 for our first-ever telephone town hall, “The Fight for Public Transit Funding.” Learn more and sign up now.