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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

  • A Tale of Two Public Transit Systems



    The New York City Subway. The Chicago “L.” The Washington Metro. When Americans think about public transportation, they usually picture multi-modal systems. However, our nation is diverse—and so are the public transit systems that serve these different communities.

    Today—we are highlighting some public transit systems folks may not know a lot about. These smaller systems in towns, suburbs, and rural areas provide essential mobility and benefit local economies. Check out our spotlights, one in Michigan and one in Iowa, to uncover interesting facts about these small but mighty public transit systems.

    The Rapid, Michigan

    Grand Rapids has a population of about 200,000 people—and boasts a robust public transit system known as “The Rapid.” This multi-modal system includes buses, paratransit, vanpools, bus rapid transit, and a downtown shuttle. The Rapid—which serves the city and five suburbs—provides more than 11 million rides annually.

    The city’s main transit hub is a commercial anchor for the city. When the central terminal was expanded just over a decade ago, it became a catalyst for transit-oriented development (TOD), attracting $74 million in new investments.

    Investments in the region presented an opportunity for Grand Rapids to leverage and expand its footprint by expanding development near critical bus routes. For example, a two-block area on the city’s West Side is being completely transformed with new retail, office, and residential space. Residents and workers in the $60 million “super block” project will have immediate access to public transit with several Rapid bus lines running adjacent to the development.



    Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Iowa

    The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority—better known as DART—serves the Greater Des Moines area, an urban metropolis with a combination of bus lines, shuttles, paratransit vehicles, and a rideshare program.

    DART has played a central role in revitalizing the city’s core. In 2012, DART opened a new Central Station, attracting development and new investments to the region. This state-of-the-art facility replaced an aging mall and enabling a prime corridor—Walnut Street—to be redeveloped into a retail district.

    This public transit system is critical in connecting Iowans with job opportunities, access to entertainment, and making the region stronger.

    Case Study: Dee Zee Manufacturing

    Recently, auto accessories manufacture Dee Zee Manufacturing partnered with DART to support a bus line extension that will bring employees right to the company’s main plant. The partnership is expected to help Dee Zee hire and retain employees.

    The strength of the DART system is also creating other unconventional development opportunities. For example, Des Moines has reimagined how to repurpose unused parking spaces while supporting public transit. Now Des Moines is considering transforming unused parking structures into mixed-use developments. One old parking structure was recently demolished to make space for the city’s largest project in decades—a high-rise with offices, a movie theater, a boutique hotel, and apartments.

    The Power of Small Public Transit Systems

    As DART and The Rapid demonstrate, public transit and its benefits are not limited to large cities. Communities of every size benefit from public transportation. Stay tuned to learn more about public transit systems in cities across the nation.

  • From Home to Work: Public Transit’s Making the Most Important Connections



    Every day, millions of Americans reach their jobs using public transportation. But it isn’t just the workforce using transportation. Business owners rely on public transportation to find and retain good talent to keep their businesses moving forward. The ripple effect public transportation creates drives not only an individual’s economic prosperity, but local economies across the nation.

    Don’t Believe Us? Let’s Hear from Voices for Public Transit Advocates!

    We’re hearing from advocates across the country on how they rely on public transportation for reaching their jobs and the ability of public transit to drive business growth.

    • “I've had to rely on public transportation due to an injury that prevents me from driving. I’ve also had workers that I’ve supervised who rely on public transportation to get to work. Without a reliable and extensive network of public transportation, businesses would lose out on qualified workers, and workers would have fewer opportunities for work.” Karen from Dallas, TX
    • “I have epilepsy and cannot drive. I rely on public transportation to get to work. I live and work in a rural area, so even if I move closer to my job, I would still be taking public transportation.” Janet from Derry, PA
    • “I commute daily by transit. It’s the only way I can get to my job. Transit has opened new opportunities to me by allowing me to find work that might otherwise be beyond my reach.” William from Aurora, CO
    • “My job is 45 miles from my home. I commute by Tri-Rail, which is our local train system. It costs me just about $2 a day compared to about $10-15 in gas to drive on the very contested highway. It’s a game changer. This system has allowed me to live in a better neighborhood while maintaining my job.” Sunshine from Boynton Beach FL


    Beyond Individual Access; Public Transit Helps Businesses Grow

    When employees can dependably reach their jobs, employers benefit as well. Businesses located close to public transportation experience less employee absenteeism and employee turnover. These businesses enjoy the added benefit of having access to a larger pool of potential employees.

    Employers and business owners have partnered with local government and transit agencies to expand public transit options. Take a look at suburban Indianapolis where property owners supported a new fee to help improve public transit to business clusters. The new service—which includes shuttles, buses, and ride-sharing—is helping connect job seekers with employers such as Amazon, Ryder, and Belkin.

    Investments in Public Transit Drive Economic Returns

    Investments in public transit support job creation. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates about 50,000 jobs. In addition, public transportation is a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs.

    But as we’ve seen, transit benefits go beyond job creation. Public transportation is a connector between private sector employers and employees, providing advantages to both.

  • The FAST Act is Driving Public Transit Improvements



    The 2015 FAST Act committed $305 billion to our nation’s transportation network over five years, including an 18 percent increase in funding for public transportation. Over the last two years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been implementing many components of the FAST Act. Here are some highlights:



      The FAST Act provided $3.75 billion for buses and bus facilities. State and local governments, representing communities of all sizes, have applied for grants to create, improve, and expand bus systems.

      In 2016, more than 60 bus projects all around the country were awarded more than $210 million in federal funding. Projects in Tomah, Wisconsin, and Mesa County, Colorado, expanded mobility options for people with disabilities. Many public transit systems received funds to replace ageing buses or upgrade to more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

      Bus systems are the backbone of public transit systems in communities large and small. The next round of funding will provide $226.5 million for bus improvements, with winning projects to be announced soon.





      The FAST Act is enabling expansions of commuter rail systems. Notably, Maryland broke ground in 2017 on its Purple Line, connecting the Washington, D.C., metro area with Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Commuter rail expansion and modernization efforts in Los Angeles and Chicago are also moving forward thanks to federal FAST Act dollars.





      Public transit is essential not only for cities, but also for smaller towns and rural areas. The FAST Act provided funding specifically for public transit improvements in rural areas and on tribal lands.

      In 2017, the DOT announced $5 million worth of grants for 36 tribal public transit projects in 19 states. This funding will provide increased public transit options for tribal members living in rural Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, and other states.

      “Transportation is a lifeline in tribal communities, many of which are in rural areas of the country,”noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “The Tribal Transit Program makes a real difference for residents in these communities by helping to fund convenient, efficient, and affordable public transportation.”



    Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten the FAST Act

    Even as the FAST Act is delivering on its promise to improve transportation for millions of Americans, it continues to come under threat. The President’s proposed infrastructure initiative and proposed budget cuts could scale back funding for public transit. Urge Congress today to stand up for public transit and include funding for public transit in their infrastructure legislation.

    Voices for Public Transit is gearing up for the long-term fight to secure complete implementation and full funding for the FAST Act. Stay tuned to learn actions you can take now and in the future to ensure that America remains committed to public transportation.

  • Trains, Planes, Automobiles - Oh My!



    We’re on top of public transportation news, diving deep to give you the latest on what you need to know!

    Public Transit Is Moving Forward in Local Communities

    Communities across the country are improving and expanding their public transit systems. Local media recently covered public transit milestones in Charlotte and Minneapolis.



    Congress Stands Up for Public Transit Funding

    Good news out of Washington! The recent omnibus spending bill increases funding for public transportation. Though funding only runs through September, it is welcome news to see, once again, that Congress can unite across party lines to support public transit.



    Public Transportation Continues to Face Challenges

    News coverage notes that the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal doesn’t provide the support that public transit needs for maintenance, improvement and expansion.



    Public transportation advocates, just like you, make a difference when it comes to protecting public transportation in Washington. Members of Congress across the political divide are listening to their constituents and their desire for a strong, interconnected, multimodal transit system.

    We’re dedicated to keeping you up to date with the latest in public transportation news across the country and action you can take to stand up for mobility and America’s transit infrastructure.

  • Transit-Oriented Development Strengthens Communities



    Public transportation not only provides essential mobility to millions of Americans, but it also anchors communities and drives economic development.

    “Transit-oriented development” (TOD) refers to the way public transportation helps drive new investment in residential and commercial development along transit lines because ready access to public transportation helps attract new residents and businesses alike. TOD neighborhoods include a mixture of residences, stores, offices, and services, all located within a half-mile of public transit, and they are helping transform communities—and lives—throughout the nation.

    Households in transit-oriented neighborhoods spend, on average, 15 percent of their income on transportation, compared to 28 percent in neighborhoods without public transit access. In addition to lowering transportation costs, transit-oriented development:

    • Reduces strain on roads and highways—and helps limit traffic congestion
    • Promotes public health by supporting walking, cycling, and community interaction
    • Helps businesses attract both customers and employees
    • Revitalizes neighborhoods and supports housing affordability
    • Reduces air pollution and limits sprawl



    Federal Transit Funding Supports TOD

    The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act includes key provisions to support transit-oriented development. The FAST Act reauthorized and expanded the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to include qualifying transit-oriented development projects. The FAST Act also provides continued funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s transit-oriented planning grant program.

    While the FTA has awarded many transit-oriented planning grants to large cities, smaller communities have also benefited:

    • Greater Boise, Idaho—The Boise region’s Valley Regional Transit (VRT) is planning to launch a bus rapid transit (BRT) service in the region, with a major line running from downtown Boise out to smaller communities to the west. A federally funded transit-oriented development grant is helping VRT and regional partners develop plans for four TOD sites.
    • Lake County, Indiana—The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) received federal funding to help incorporate transit-oriented development best practices into the development of a new rail line. The plan will support multi-modal transportation, encourage private-sector investment, and promote increased residential density.
    • Ogden and Provo-Orem, Utah—These cities that bookend Utah’s main regional commuter rail line received federal transit-oriented development planning grants to foster growth and community prosperity anchored by BRT services. The grants will foster housing affordability and encourage walking and cycling.


    Some Americans—and even some lawmakers—mistakenly think federal transit funding only benefits large metropolitan areas. Simply not true. The FAST Act is reaching communities of all sizes—and public transit is helping drive smart investment and development in suburbs, small towns, and rural areas alike.

    Raising awareness about the “hidden” benefits of public transportation, like transit-oriented development, will be key as elected officials continue to debate the budget and consider infrastructure legislation. Public transit does much more than provide mobility, it transforms communities of all sizes.

  • The Time is Now to Urge Congress to Support Public Transit Funding



    The Administration’s new infrastructure initiative and proposed budget recommend deep cuts to public transit funding. In 2015, Congress united to support public transportation, passing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by strong bipartisan votes.

    We need Congress to step up again, to protect public transportation funding and include public transit investment in its infrastructure legislation.

    Supporters of public transit must come together, cut through the noise and tell Congress to protect public transportation funding.

    Here’s what’s at risk:

    • 800,000 jobs—including more than a half-million construction and related positions.
    • Mobility for millions of Americans who rely on rail and bus systems to get to work, access education and health care, and connect with friends, family and their larger communities.
    • Public transit improvements communities are counting on—the Administration’s proposals would cut funding for new rail and bus ways by 57%.



    We’re at a critical juncture. Congress will soon be voting on the federal budget—and then may focus on a stand-alone infrastructure bill. We need to call on Congress now to unite again to keep public transportation moving.

    Polling shows 75 percent of Americans support increased investment in public transportation. Your message can help convince Congress that public transportation should remain a priority.

  • Wrapping Up 2017 and Looking Ahead

    As 2017 draws to a close, Voices for Public Transit wants to thank our dedicated advocates all across the country. Your continued support kept public transportation funding in the spotlight as Congress debated budget issues, tax reform, and more.

    Thank you!

    Making Our Voices Heard in 2017

    Voices for Public Transit kicked off 2017 by welcoming new and returning legislators to the 115th Congress and reminding them why public transportation should continue to be a priority for our nation.

    Unfortunately, President Trump proposed a budget that included severe cuts to public transportation, creating an early need for public transportation supporters to respond urgently—and respond you did.

    In February and March, we flooded congressional offices with emails opposing the president’s budget cuts. As first the House and then the Senate began putting forth budget proposals that included cuts to key public transportation programs, Voices for Public Transit continued reminding elected officials that cutting public transportation funding would hurt the economy, jobs, and communities across the nation.

    Our crescendo of activity in 2017 reached its pinnacle in October when Voices for Public Transit led a #Rally4Transit that filled cyberspace with messages of support for public transportation and raised awareness of the economic damage and job losses that would result from proposed funding cuts. We sent emails, blasted Congress with social media messages, shared stories and photos online, and sent letters to the editor to help cut through the noise to make our message heard on Capitol Hill.

    What Was Our Impact in 2017?

    All told, in 2017, Voices for Public Transit:

    • Sent more than 40,000 emails and letters to Congress
    • Submitted more than 2,600 letters to editors of local papers, highlighting proposed transit cuts and championing transit funding
    • Collected 18,197 petition signatures
    • Reached more than 996,000 people online with our #Rally4Transit Thunderclap

    The budget debate in Congress is ongoing and will likely continue well into 2019, so this wave of activity has been important in ensuring public transit doesn’t get lost amid all the other budget priorities being debated.

    What's in Store for 2018?

    Lawmakers from both political parties share two goals: creating jobs and strengthening our economy. How we achieve those goals is what remains to be decided.

    In 2018, whether Congress is debating the federal budget or a long-term infrastructure plan, Voices for Public Transit will be standing up and speaking out, spreading the message that investment in public transportation drives both job creation and economic growth. It helps lift people out of poverty, reduces air pollution, helps fight traffic congestion, and improves the quality of life for American communities of all sizes and people from all walks of life.

    In other words, we have a great story to tell about public transportation! In 2018, we’ll be asking our entire community to help us keep telling this story until Congress really listens and ensures public transportation has the federal support it deserves.

    Happy holidays and happy New Year. Let’s keep moving forward together in 2018.

  • Hop Aboard the Arctic Express

    Voices for Public Transit is getting into the holiday spirit by catching a ride on the Artic Express all the way to the North Pole.

    Join us as we travel far and wide to see the ways public transportation is benefiting our economy and strengthening our communities.

    Throughout December, we’ll be sharing snapshots from our virtual Arctic Express trip on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll be passing through communities of all sizes—from small towns to big cities—and seeing how public transportation is making a positive impact.

    Follow us as we see how public transit:

    • Creates jobs
    • Contributes to the economy
    • Generates revenues that strengthen local communities
    • Helps people save money

    Public transit gives us a lot to be thankful for! We hope you’ll share our Arctic Express photos and transit facts with your online networks.

  • Fighting Transportation Deserts

    Communities of all sizes—cities, suburbs, and rural areas—can suffer from transportation “deserts”—places where the only way in and out of the community is by car, and where residents are often cut off from easy access to other parts of their city or region due to the impractical design of road and highway infrastructure around the area.

    Transportation deserts lead to limited mobility for many of the people who live in them, and communities located inside transportation deserts often become victim to economic blight and the many societal ills that accompany it.

    Limited mobility means a limited life. It cuts people off from jobs, education opportunities, services, and community connections.

    Public transit agencies work hard to fight transportation deserts, despite having to work with limited budgets and conflicting infrastructure priorities in many communities. In recent years, we’ve seen many innovative strategies emerge that are striking a blow against these deserts and improving mobility for at-risk communities.

    Different Solutions for Different Communities

    Public transit systems are locally operated, allowing them to respond to local needs. While the federal government provides critically important funding, local systems and regional transit authorities (RTAs) set priorities and guide projects to meet the needs of their communities. Below are some great examples of how these systems fight to restore mobility to areas that qualify as transportation deserts.

    • On-Demand Service in Rural Texas — In the Lone Star State’s many rural areas, it isn’t always feasible to provide regularly scheduled, or “fixed-route” bus service. Instead, the state’s Rural Transit Districts (RTDs) have developed other options, including on-demand public transportation services, usually provided by vans or small buses. By calling the local public transit service about 24 hours in advance, any person in an RTD can schedule a ride pick-up, with trips costing as little as $1.

    • Neighborhood Shuttles in Washington, DC — Though our nation’s capital has a strong public transportation system, there are still several neighborhoods where residents can’t easily access rideshare services. In response, the city has partnered with a local cab company to provide neighborhood shuttles that connect riders to grocery stores, services, and the city’s Metro subway system.

    • New Bus Routes in Houston and Columbus — In Houston, the METRO transit system reduced transportation deserts by totally redesigning its bus routes in 2015. By converting from hub-and-spoke bus routes to a grid system, METRO immediately put an additional 600,000 people within a half-mile of bus service. The bus system now connects about 1 million people with 1 million jobs. Columbus, Ohio, also recently implemented whole new bus routes, which put an additional 110,000 jobs within a five-minute walk of public transit.

    • Partnering with Rideshare — In St. Petersburg and Clearwater (Fla.), Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) was the first system in the nation to fight transportation deserts by partnering with a rideshare company. PSTA’s bus routes left many area residents more than a mile from public transit access, but simply adding more routes wasn’t feasible from a fiscal perspective. The system partnered with rideshare company Uber and a local taxi company to provide rides to and from bus stops within two underserved areas. Once a rider can reach a bus stop, the entire region becomes accessible via the regular bus service.

    Public transit systems in every part of the country should have the opportunity to close mobility gaps by implementing new ideas, leveraging emerging technologies, and expanding services. Reducing transportation deserts improves people’s lives and strengthens communities, which ultimately benefits everyone through stronger economies, reduced burdens on taxpayer-supported programs, and more.

    Public transportation has been making progress in recent years — and Congress should support this momentum. We need big thinking and smart funding from federal leaders, not a retreat from investing in our transportation future.

  • Public Transit Helps Keeps Veterans and Service Members Moving

    It’s Veterans Day and Voices for Public Transit wants to take a moment to sincerely thank our veterans and active service members! Today, we’re taking a look at how veterans use public transit to commute, gain access to healthcare services, connect with their community, and remain mobile. In addition, we are looking at job opportunities for veterans in the transportation industry.

    Public Transportation Serving Veterans

    The U.S. has more than 18 million veterans—men and women who served our country and made tremendous sacrifices. For their service, veterans deserve the ongoing support of our nation. Public transportation is essential for many vets, enabling them to access medical treatment, travel to school, and connect with friends and family.

    As former Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood put it, “Access to reliable and affordable transportation is an essential ingredient to empower today’s service members, veterans, and their families to participate fully and successfully in their communities and achieve economic stability.”

    The Veterans Affairs (VA) health system operates the Veterans Transportation Program (VTP) enabling veterans to access healthcare services nationwide. The VTP is able to succeed by leveraging public transit systems in communities around the country—including rural communities.

    There are 2.9 million rural veterans living in America, making up 33 percent of the veteran population enrolled in the VA health care system. Small town and rural public transit systems help veterans access needed services. Learn more by downloading the full Public Transit’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns report.

    Transit Jobs for Veterans

    It’s not just mobility that public transit can offer veterans. Job opportunities and workforce development are available for our service men and women in the transportation industry. Thousands of veterans fill jobs of every type in public transit—applying skills developed in the service to help keep people moving in the civilian world. The U.S. Department of Defense identifies transportation as one of five career fields that offer the best opportunities for veterans.

    Veterans occupy all levels of jobs in transit—from drivers to mechanics, to engineers and system leaders. “The public transportation industry has a welcome mat out for returning veterans,” says Phillip Washington, the head of LA Metro and a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army. The Transit Virtual Career Network has more information about workforce development and job openings for veterans.

    Mobility Means Opportunities

    Veterans need mobility for more than access to healthcare services. The U.S. Department of Transportation supports veterans through its Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI), which aims to remove mobility as a barrier to accessing work. The initiative funds call centers and manages mobility programs that enable vets to connect with public transit options in their communities.

    Mobility programs for veterans are supported by federal transportation funding, and help support military families and strengthen our community. The 2015 long-term transportation bill, the FAST ACT, codified support for key programs supporting vets.

    But Congress is threatening to cut funding for public transit. Will the upcoming budget reduce mobility options for vets? Voices for Public Transit will raise our voices to make sure that public transit funding dollars are protected, especially those that support our service men and women.


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