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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Advocate spotlight

    Dana Bagshaw

    I'm a public transportation advocate and I find riding local buses gives me a connection with others I wouldn't meet if I drove.

    Read More

  • Share Your Experience

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

    Make your story available for use?