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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.

The Latest

  • Budget Cuts Would Hit Critical Public Transit Projects

    Congress is still deciding what to do about public transportation funding in the next federal budget. It looks like we will see some funding cuts, even if they are not as severe as those the White House initially proposed. So what do potential funding cuts mean for public transit systems across the nation? Today, we zero in on key programs that could be cut—and how communities would be hurt.

    Keeping the TIGER Program Alive

    President Trump proposed entirely eliminating the highly popular, competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. Since 2009, the TIGER program has helped improve and transform transportation in American communities of every size.

    Over seven rounds of funding, the TIGER program has provided nearly $4.6 billion for 420 projects in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. TIGER grants make a real difference in people’s lives:

    • In Cleveland, Ohio, a $12.5 million TIGER grant enabled the Regional Transit Authority to build an important new rail station. This investment has helped attract additional private investment in the area, stimulating economic development and connecting people to nearby community resources, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art.
    • In Omaha, Nebraska, a $15 million TIGER grant enabled the city to launch a new bus rapid transit (BRT) line, bringing mobility options to a corridor where a significant portion of residents have no access to a car.
    • In Brownsville, Texas, a $10 million TIGER grant is enabling the region to improve and expand bus service, as well as make other transportation improvements. Texas Senator John Cornyn (R) praised the TIGER award, saying improvements “will have far-reaching impacts on not only Brownsville, but the entire coastal region.”

    Project by project, public transit improves mobility, drives economic development, helps communities connect, and enhances people’s lives. The TIGER program could enable more communities to make progress—but not if it is severely reduced or eliminated by draconian budget cuts.

    Sustaining Capital Investment Grants

    The budget also proposed phasing out the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. More than fifty critical public transit projects funded in part through the CIG program are already in the development or engineering stages. States and cities have committed their own funds to these projects, with the expectation of federal funding support. Cutting funds for projects already in process will negatively impact these communities’ public transit systems and wallets. Here are some CIG projects that might be affected:

    • Indianapolis, Indiana, voters recently supported new local funding for public transit, but the proposed cuts to the federal CIG program would leave a shortage of $75 million in the region’s plan to electrify and improve its bus rapid transit (BRT) system. CIG cuts would also jeopardize BRT improvements in several other regions.
    • In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a planned streetcar line is slated to connect the State Capitol complex to downtown and Louisiana State University. The project could be scaled back or falter without sufficient CIG funding.
    • In Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona, rail and streetcar projects respectively could also falter because of CIG cuts. These projects are needed to help address increasingly heavy traffic in this region.

    The above examples are just a small snapshot of what’s at stake. TIGER and CIG funding cuts directly hurt public transit, but they will also translate into reduced access to jobs, education, and services, which carry huge implications for the overall economic and societal health of affected communities.

    Americans will suffer if Congress turns its back on our nation’s historic commitment to public transportation. The good news is, it seems our lawmakers in Congress are hearing this message. The question is, will they remain firm in their support of public transportation when push comes to shove in the federal budget debate this fall?

    Stay tuned and stay involved to help us shore up congressional support.

  • Public Transportation Fights Poverty

    Access to transportation is the single most significant factor in enabling people to escape poverty. Public transportation access can have a greater impact on a person's ability to escape poverty than:

    • Crime
    • Single-Parent Households
    • Student Test Scores

    Moving Up the Income Ladder

    Longer commute times reduce the chances that low income families will be able to move up the income ladder. In areas where there is little or no public transportation, families are more likely to be stuck in the cycle of poverty with much more limited access to jobs or employment choices than people with access to a car or reliable public transportation.

    It's not just the ability to travel to work that is impacted by public transit. Research shows that proximity to affordable, reliable public transportation translates into job choices and ultimately higher incomes. Areas with limited public transit have lower incomes compared to places where public transit connects people to jobs. While urban communities are certainly affected, rural communities are especially at risk.

    The Link Between Transportation and Poverty

    The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently gave our nation's entire infrastructure a D+ grade and estimated that we need to invest $4.6 trillion by 2025 to bring our transportation systems and other infrastructure up to an acceptable B grade. Public transit by itself received a D- grade, and ASCE notes that the U.S. has a backlog of $90 billion in needed maintenance on public transportation systems. Public transportation continues to be an area where the U.S. lags significantly behind nearly every other industrialized nation.

    The link between transportation and poverty should be part of our conversation about America's infrastructure investment. Increased investment in public transportation is a way to help lift millions of Americans out of poverty instead of turning to entitlement programs. Rather than expanding public transportation to help confront poverty, however, the initial draft transportation budget from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies proposes substantial cuts to public transportation, even if they are not as deep as those in President Trump’s proposed budget. The outlook from the Senate is somewhat better, but the Senate’s draft budget still reduces public transit funding rather than protecting current funding levels or even expanding them.

    Those in poverty will see a valuable resource continue to diminish if critical funding for public transit is cut. There are many reasons for Congress to support full public transportation funding—it’s good for our entire economy; it makes our communities more sustainable; and it helps reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of all travel and commerce. But when it comes to reducing poverty in America—and by extension reducing the need for taxpayer-supported entitlement programs—members of Congress should make it a priority to help vulnerable American families who are struggling financially.

    Funding public transportation is a public good that benefits everyone, but especially those in communities of all sizes who are struggling to break the poverty cycle.

  • A Right to an Independent Life

    Think about what it means to you or to someone you love to be able to independently get to where you need to go.

    Now consider what would happen if you were to lose that independence...This is the reality for many millions of Americans across the nation.

    Public transportation is a lifeline for millions of people who can’t drive or who cannot afford a car because of age, disability, or financial circumstances. Others may choose to forego their vehicle because of the environment or to give themselves greater financial freedom or freedom of choice in other aspects of their lives.

    A Basic Individual Right

    The right to movement — or mobility — is protected under the U.S. Constitution, similar to our freedom of speech and religion, and being able to move independently is crucial to the exercise of many of our other freedoms and many of the opportunities Americans often take for granted. In this blog post, we’re sharing stories from riders who are able to exercise their right to be mobile thanks to public transit.

    My [approximately hour-long] commute from Manson (WA) to Wenatchee Valley College could cost over $10/day. That's over $50/week in fuel on a student income. The Link Transit Service is a critical resource for me and many other students that live in my rural community, not to mention those that commute for employment that sustains their families. Link Transit is indispensable!

    — Washington Transit Rider

    Public transportation is my sole source for mobility. One of my college degrees was made possible by the availability and accessibility of public transportation.

    — Tennessee Transit Rider

    [Reducing transit services] would take my independence away. I do not like to ask anybody to take me anywhere unless I absolutely have to. I would not be able to go to the grocery store or other shopping on a limited income.

    — Ohio Transit Rider

    In a county like Erie, PA, it [reducing or eliminating transit] would be devastating. There would be people who would have to find other homes or other work because public transportation connects them. Thirty-three percent of people in Erie use public transit.

    — Pennsylvania Supporter

    These stories show how public transit improves individual lives, as well as underscore some of the devastating consequences if public transportation funding were to be cut significantly. But mobility is considered a key freedom not just because it’s important to individuals, but also because it’s vital to the functioning of our society and economy as a whole.

    The Bottom Line when it Comes to Mobility

    At its core, mobility improves people’s lives and communities, and public transit improves mobility both for those who ride and those who don’t. Every American — including every member of Congress — should recognize that public transit funding is essential to our quality of life, especially as our population continues to grow and the need for a more mobile workforce expands.

    Share Your Mobility Story with Us

    Voices for Public Transit needs to hear and share more great stories that demonstrate the importance of public transit. Every American’s right to mobility should be supported by federal funding for public transportation. Please share your story today.

  • What Does Mobility Mean to You?

    What makes members of Congress sit up and take notice? Real stories…personal stories…authentic experiences that demonstrate the impact of public transportation in giving more people crucial mobility and greater independence.

    Stories from individuals like you are key to motivating lawmakers to take a stand and take action. We need Congress to stand up and support public transit funding when they finalize the federal budget this fall — and your stories are going to help us win the day.

    What Makes a Great Mobility Story?

    Ultimately, the personal details are what make a story compelling. Here are just a few suggestions for things you can share that will help us demonstrate the importance of independent mobility for individuals and communities across the nation:

    • Has public transit helped you access work or education?
      For some people, public transportation has opened up educational and employment opportunities. We’ve heard amazing stories from public transit supporters who were able to attend school or reach work because of public transportation.

    • Do you use public transit to volunteer in your community or connect with friends and family?
      Public transit enables many people to make connections—not just from one place to another, but with other people. Tell us how riding public transit helps you connect with others and make a difference in your community.

    • Does public transit connect you or people you know to events, shopping, or cultural attractions?
      Public transit improves the flow of commerce in many communities by connecting people to shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and more.

    • Do mobility choices provided by public transit improve your quality of life?
      Public transportation gives millions of people choices for how they get around. That’s important both for those who can’t drive and for those who prefer not to.

    Every story counts — tell us why mobility independence matters to you today.

  • Public Transit Supports Personal Independence

    For the July 4 holiday, we looked at how public transit broadly supports the freedom of movement — a right protected under the Constitution — and mobility independence.

    Today, Voices for Public Transit advocates are sharing their own stories of how a comprehensive public transportation system supports their personal mobility. The fact is, public transportation supports independent living for many Americans who can’t drive or don’t have access to a car.

    Public Transportation Keeps Us Moving

    Many public transit advocates or their family members use public transportation to overcome challenges and lead fuller lives. Here are just a few examples from our recent World Without Transit survey:

    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, and 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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    As you can see, public transit not only provides mobility for those who can’t drive, but is also essential for many individuals and families confronting financial challenges. We’re hearing from advocates who are able to attend school, reach work, and connect with their communities because of public transportation. Our nation should be proud that we’ve established the foundation of a public transportation network that supports mobility and independent living for millions of people, including seniors, people with disabilities, vets, and lower-income Americans — but we still have a long way to go before public transportation will be accessible to everyone who needs it.

    Unfortunately, public transportation is now threatened by substantial federal budget cuts, which could set our nation back decades in the progress we should be making toward a truly integrated, multi-modal transportation network. Voices for Public Transit will continue working to ensure our congressional champions know they have the support of voters around the country.

    Do you have a story you would like to share about why public transportation is important to you? Are you able to live more independently, pursue employment or educational opportunities, or connect with your community because of public transit? We’d like to hear about it. Please share your story at this link.

  • Public Transit Matters to Local Businesses

    Several of America’s largest employers made significant moves over the past few years:

    • In January 2016, GE announced its headquarters would leave Fairfield, Conn., and relocate to Boston.
    • Timber and wood products giant Weyerhaeuser moved its headquarters to downtown Seattle in 2016 after 45 years in the suburban town of Federal Way, Wash.
    • McDonald’s announced it would move its corporate offices from suburban Oak Brook, Ill., to Chicago by spring 2018.
    • Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, has plans to relocate its headquarters to Bethesda, Md.

    What do all of these moves have in common? Proximity to public transportation.

    • Weyerhaeuser spokesman Jack Evans called access to transit "a big deal" for employees.
    • Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen specifically praised public transit as a lure for hiring, saying, “I think it’s essential we be accessible to Metro… I think, as with many other things, our younger folks are more inclined to be Metro-accessible and more urban.”

    These companies not only want to improve commutes for employees, but also be located where new, young talent wants to work. In our previous blog, we highlighted how access to public transportation is a key factor for Millennials when they decide where to live and work. In a recent Voices for Public Transit survey, business owners said public transit is critical to having the best workforce possible: “Providing [transit] access to all employees is critical to attracting quality talent.”

    Insurance giant State Farm has gone a step further. In three locations, the company is making investments in local public transit hubs. The company’s goal is to improve the quality of life for their employees and lay the foundation for future growth. According to Chief Operating Officer Michael Tipsord, “We’re designing these workplaces to be the future of State Farm. We’re creating a live-work-play environment that will give employees easy access to their work from the neighboring communities.”

    Corporate relocations or moves near public transportation can bring bountiful commercial, cultural, and retail benefits to the surrounding communities. In many areas, developers are investing in new housing in conjunction with public transit expansions. State Farm itself is anchoring a $600 million investment in Tempe, Ariz., and public transit access was a big reason for the company’s decision to move forward with this investment.

    Ever more frequently, the presence of public transportation is a primary factor in business decisions. It’s obvious public transportation infrastructure warrants public investment not just for the benefit of the people who ride it but also for their larger communities, so they may reap the benefits of increased economic activity, improved traffic congestion, and greater safety for everyone.

  • Multi-modal Transportation = Freedom to Choose

    Some Americans believe public transportation is only for people who can’t drive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Today, millions of Americans choose to ride public transit, often combining it with other forms of transportation, such as cars and bikes, to get where they need to go as comfortably and cost-effectively as possible.

    Notably, surveys show Millennials favor cities with public transportation because it gives them the freedom to live without a car. In one survey of Millennials, 80 percent said access to public transportation was “very important” when they considered where to live, while 78 percent ranked access to public transportation as more important than other workplace amenities, such as access to a gym, cafeteria, or coffee bar.

    Why Americans Choose Public Transit

    According to a 2015 survey, top reasons people choose to ride public transit include:

    • Cost-effectiveness
    • Productivity or relaxation
    • Convenience
    • Reduced carbon footprint
    • Faster that driving
    • Safety

    Public transit also supports an active lifestyle. Many people today are multimodal travelers, combining walking, bicycling, rideshare services, and public transportation to get to their destinations. Even those who drive are more frequently choosing also to use public transportation, leaving their cars at park & rides and letting the bus or train get them through the worst of the traffic in their area.

    Research also shows a great many Americans — 80 percent — would choose to ride buses and rail more often if service were more frequent or more accessible in their area. While many systems around the country have added new lines and services in recent years, there also is a nearly $90 billion backlog of needed maintenance and upgrades.

    As much as anything, public transportation gives Americans more freedom to choose — how they travel, where they live and work, to remain independent when they can’t drive, to reduce their individual impact on the environment or their living expenses, and much more. Investing in public transportation as part of a comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system just makes sense for Americans from all walks of life.

  • Celebrating Mobility Independence this 4th of July

    Did you know freedom of movement is a legally protected right in the United States?

    The right to travel means that all Americans can move freely about the country. Freedom of movement enables people to pursue jobs, educational opportunities, and quality of life anywhere in the country. At the local level, mobility enables people to get to work and school, access healthcare and other services, shop, and meet up with friends and family.

    The Importance of Public Transportation Access

    Transportation is a critical component for mobility. For millions of Americans who cannot drive, don’t have access to a car, or choose not to own a car, public transportation provides the mobility independence that’s vital to their ability to participate actively in the economy and their local communities.

    Reliable, affordable public transportation and paratransit services enable many seniors and people with disabilities to remain independent. Even when physical conditions prevent people from driving, they can still travel, maintain routines, volunteer, and have a full and active life. Public transit also gives people who can drive more options for mobility, which can help reduce costs, improve productivity, and increase the safety of travel for everyone.

    Although taxis and rideshare services can assist in getting people from Point A to Point B, public transportation is the real solution to providing affordable mobility to communities of all sizes. And we are seeing innovative public transit solutions emerging around the country to meet the unique needs of the various communities they serve. Public transit systems in Florida and Oregon are partnering with rideshare services and developing hybrids of on-demand and fixed-route service to better reach into areas that can be difficult to serve with traditional bus and train services, like suburban residential neighborhoods. Hundreds more examples exist around the country. With the right combination of investment and innovation, we are making public transit accessible to more people in more communities than ever before.

    Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Mobility Independence

    Whether you live in a big northeast city or a rural southwest community, President Trump’s proposed public transportation budget cuts could undermine mobility independence if Congress chooses to enact them.

    The president has proposed eliminating the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program. This program has improved mobility for Americans around the country. For example, the 2016 TIGER grant awarded to Brownsville, Texas, helps people in rural areas connect with educational and employment opportunities in central Brownsville.

    Public transit expansions and innovations like these may disappear without a continued commitment from Congress to invest in public transportation — and without public transportation, many Americans will see their mobility independence drastically reduced.

    Celebrating What We Have

    This July 4th, Voices for Public Transit is celebrating the freedom of movement public transportation supports in so many ways—for people who ride it and for people who don’t. We’ve seen system expansions over the last decade, development of new technologies, and better integration between public transit and other forms of transportation moving us toward truly multi-modal transportation networks. It’s a positive transportation revolution for our entire nation, and we’re committed to seeing it continue.

    P.S. When you celebrate the Fourth of July — especially if you go to events in urban centers — consider taking public transit. It’s a great way to travel safely and efficiently and celebrate our nation and our freedom of movement at the same time.

  • Increasing Use of Public Transit Can Save Lives — Not Just Time and Money

    Two key facts we should all be considering as we debate how America should allocate its transportation budget:

    Investing in improved and expanded public transportation doesn’t just save Americans time and money, it also helps save American lives. Supporting public transportation should be an easy decision for Congress—even those members who represent states and districts that currently don’t have large public transit systems.

    Improved Safety for Everyone

    What’s critical for Congress — and the American people — to understand is that the safety benefits of public transportation are not limited just to people who ride it.

    As the 2016 report “The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation” shows, public transit riders and non-riders jointly see their crash risk cut by 50 percent when they live in communities with strong public transit systems. In other words, having public transit in your community makes the roads safer for everyone.

    A Safer Option for Higher-Risk Drivers

    Public transportation is also an important — and sometimes the only — transportation option for people who cannot drive, don’t have access to a car, or are vulnerable drivers. Older Americans justifiably want to remain active, independent, and mobile. Unfortunately, the risk of dying as the result of a car crash increases starting at age 75 and rises significantly after age 80. Our seniors are safer if they can ride public transportation. This option, however, would be reduced for many older Americans if federal funding for public transit is slashed.

    Teen drivers have an even higher crash death rate per mile driven than seniors. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 20. Public transit can provide safer mobility for teens — and makes the roads safer for all of us.

    Voices for Public Transit has often made the case that it makes economic sense to invest in public transportation. But governing shouldn’t just be about dollars and cents. We also need to remember — and remind Congress — that public transportation saves American lives.

  • Public Transit: An Important Solution to America’s Traffic Problem

    There is little more frustrating than being stuck in traffic. For communities of all sizes all across the nation, congestion on roads and highways is a daily challenge. The average commuter will spend 42 hours annually sitting in congestion. And the ripple effects of traffic jams are even more dramatic when you look at the whole picture.

    The cumulative cost of traffic congestion between 2013 and 2030 could reach $2.7 trillion.

    As Americans, we know time is money. Time wasted sitting in cars translates to dollars lost for individual households and lost profit for our economy as a whole. In addition to increased costs for individual commuters, businesses see reduced worker productivity and profitability, and companies relying on transportation of goods and services take a hit to their bottom lines when they can’t get their products and people where they need to be on time and on budget.

    In 2013, traffic cost the U.S. economy about $124 billion — or $1,700 per American household. Without action to address congestion on our roads — including expanding public transportation — the cost will increase 50 percent by 2030, to $186 billion.

    Despite the terrible toll congestion takes on our economy, our commerce, our environment, and our individual quality of life, Washington, D.C., is ignoring the obvious solution: public transportation. If President Trump’s budget recommendations are implemented, rather than increasing our investment in public transportation, its funding will be slashed —and that means more traffic and congestion for our communities and economy.

    Road Congestion Hurts Communities of All Sizes

    Some of America’s largest cities have traffic congestion nearly double the national average. Commuters in Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco lose from 78 to 82 hours per year sitting in traffic.

    But major cities definitely are not alone when it comes to suffering the negative impacts of traffic congestion. Commuters in many smaller cities also pay a price. Many times, these smaller communities may not have the highway infrastructure needed to support rural, suburban, and urban populations, and traffic can be just as bad as their larger counterparts. For example, Honolulu — ranked 55th in the nation for population — has some of the nation’s worst traffic.

    Small towns and rural areas suffer due to traffic congestion. Iowa’s economy depends on crops and other farm products reaching markets in cities across the nation. When the roads are clogged in cities, freight is slowed, and fewer products reach markets at a greater cost. Similarly, manufactured goods from cities can’t easily or as affordably reach consumers in small towns and rural communities.

    Our national transportation network is interconnected — and our broader economy depends on exchange supported by transportation. Public transportation benefits the entire transportation network by making it easier and more cost-efficient to get both people and goods where they need to go. Members of Congress in less populated states, along with their counterparts in more populous states, need to recognize that all constituents — and all local economies—benefit when traffic is reduced and the effects of a growing population nationwide are better managed with public transportation and multi-modal transportation systems.

    Good News: Public Transportation Is Working

    While road congestion will not disappear entirely, public transportation already is providing enormous benefits that take a bite out of the cost of traffic. Without public transportation, the cost of congestion for our nation would be $21 billion higher.

    On an individual level, a person who lives in a two-person household with one less car and uses public transportation can cut their transportation costs substantially. The average person switching from a car to public transportation can save more than $9,700 annually.

    Public transportation is an investment that pays off. It makes no sense to ignore worsening traffic. The best way to tackle traffic woes is to improve investment in our transportation infrastructure and that includes public transportation. Americans everywhere — even on farms in rural communities — will benefit.


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