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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»

  • #InvestNow: The Increasing Efficiency of Public Transportation

    There are numerous reasons Congress should invest in public transportation. One of the most important is that public transportation projects and transit systems themselves are becoming more cost-efficient.

    Investment in public transportation pays dividends by improving communities and the lives of millions of people—by connecting people to jobs, education, healthcare, and friends and family. We see benefits as well for our environment because public transportation helps reduce air pollution. We can bring these benefits to more communities with increasing speed and cost-efficiency because of improvements in vehicle technology, financing, and how government works.

    Innovation and Technology

    Innovations in information technology, vehicle design, and energy efficiency are all improving the performance of public transportation systems. The positive results include reductions in fuel costs and air pollution.

    Examples can be found around the country—in large cities and smaller communities. Dallas’s DART system, for instance, is converting to a bus fleet that runs entirely on compressed natural gas (CNG). DART estimates that it will save $120 million in fuel costs over the next decade. Thanks in part to federal Clean Cities Grants—provided by the Department of Energy—smaller transit systems in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and several other states have added fuel- and cost-saving buses to their fleets as well.

    Improved Financing

    While the federal government is the largest single funder of American public transportation projects, states and localities also pay a significant portion of costs. Many struggle to raise funds or end up incurring higher financing charges, which drive up a project’s overall costs. Financing challenges can sometimes stop public transportation projects from moving forward altogether.

    To address this challenge, in 2012, Congress expanded a loan program originally authorized under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). This program has helped speed transit projects, provided access to low loan rates, and saved local taxpayer dollars. However, while this loan program has been successful, its benefits have only reached 18 states. Long-term comprehensive transportation legislation would likely expand this loan program, enabling its benefits to reach more American communities.

    In future blog posts, we’ll look more closely at another trend that is helping bring public transportation to more communities more quickly—public/private partnerships, or PPP financing.

    Streamlining Projects

    As the saying goes, time is money. Public transportation projects can save money if reviews, approvals, and construction can proceed on an expedited schedule. While large-scale public transportation projects can take years or even decades to complete, government agencies are now piloting programs to speed up public transportation projects. These programs are testing concurrent reviews, expedited approvals, and collaborative decision-making. In one early success, the Los Angeles Metro system reduced the cost, community impact, and completion time of a light rail extension.

    Transit systems and agencies are also improving project assessments and taking steps to ensure that investments are made in the best project proposals. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER program does just that—though funding still falls far short of demand.

    Right now, the pieces are falling into place to revolutionize American public transportation. To be sure, there is always room for improvement, but we now have effective transportation technologies and project know-how to bring enhanced and expanded public transportation to more communities across the country. The main thing holding us back is political inaction in Washington.

    In 2015, we will demand that Congress put aside partisan divisions and pass a long-term, comprehensive transportation bill that provides certainty for public transportation developments across the nation.

  • #InvestNow: The Cost of Short-Term Funding Fixes

    In August, Voices for Public Transit covered a webinar with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx where he discussed what it will take to evolve our nation’s transportation system into the truly interconnected, 21st-century system we need.

    Over the coming weeks, Voices for Public Transit will be taking a closer look at why we believe it’s important to Invest Now in long-term public transportation funding. This series will provide specific examples of why Congress needs to set public transportation on a new and better course.

    We encourage you to share these blogs with others—and to highlight them on social media with the hashtag #InvestNow.

    Our first topic in this series? What is the cost of Congress’s short-term funding fixes. In practical terms, because Congress has not been willing to pass comprehensive, long-term transportation funding in decades, American public transportation has been living paycheck to paycheck. Lack of funding certainty means states cannot confidently plan for the future. When funding is only guaranteed for a few months at a time, the risk of committing to new projects that require years of development can become too great—or can ultimately increase the cost of projects well beyond original projections.

    This means that our local public transportation infrastructure is not keeping up with the needs of local communities. And that we are missing out on an opportunity to invest and grow our communities with transportation improvements and expansions.

    Short-Term Funding Fixes Lead to Project Delays and Cancelations

    During this summer’s Highway Trust Fund crisis, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and a bipartisan group of 11 of his predecessors—spanning seven administrations—sent an open letter to Congress calling for “a much larger and longer-term investment” in American transportation. In the letter, they highlighted several costly consequences of short term measures, noting that “the unpredictability about when, or if, funding will come has caused states to delay or cancel projects altogether.”

    In fact, in the weeks leading up to this summer’s near insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, several state departments of transportation planned to scale back or delay transportation projects, including public transportation improvements. In Oregon, for instance, new transportation projects were put on hold until at least summer of 2015.

    The lack of sufficient and reliable funding has left America’s transportation infrastructure—roads, bridges, and public transportation—struggling to reach a state of good repair. According to a recent report from the National Economic Council and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, 65 percent of American roads are in less than good condition, 25 percent of bridges require significant repair, and 45 percent of Americans lack access to public transit. Poor infrastructure and lack of public transportation adds to commute times, and Americans spend 5.5 billion hours in traffic every year. This translates into a cost for American families of $120 billion in extra fuel and lost time.

    Bond Rating Costs

    Delaying repairs and improvements to public transportation adds to overall costs—as conditions of equipment and infrastructure worsen. Inconsistent and short-term federal funding also directly costs states—and taxpayers—in the form of higher financing costs for projects.

    States and municipalities often fund transportation projects by issuing bonds. Bonds enable state governments to raise money for projects that will be paid for over several years. In many instances, bond obligations are paid with dollars provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Previously, the reliability of federal transportation funding helped make the bonds highly secure, which meant that interest rates on the bonds remained low.

    But because of uncertainty about federal transportation funding, that security has eroded—and state transportation bond ratings have slipped. As a result, states—and therefore taxpayers—face increased interest costs when they issue new transportation bonds that cover an infrastructure project. Congress’s failure to pass a long-term transportation bill results in increased cost of our transportation infrastructure.

    We have a right to be frustrated about Congress’s inaction when it comes to addressing America’s transportation needs. We need to be sure Congress gets the message to INVEST NOW long before next May, when our current short-term funding extension runs out.

    Please share this blog with your friends and family using the hashtag #InvestNow—and post it on the Facebook pages of your U.S. Representative and Senators, too. If you use twitter, tweet a link to the blog at your members of Congress too.

  • Cast Your Vote for Public Transportation

    If we’re going to make public transportation a national priority, we also need to make it an election priority.

    How can we do this? First, by educating ourselves about where candidates stand on transportation issues—and then by voting for those candidates who are committed to advancing American public transportation. And second, by spreading the message that we are voting for public transportation—telling friends and family, sharing our views on social media, and letting candidates know that public transportation is a top priority for the voters they represent.

    Find Out Where Candidates Stand on Public Transportation

    To be a public transportation voter, you must know where candidates stand on transportation and infrastructure issues. Here are some ways to research your candidates’ positions:

    • Visit Candidate Websites—Likely, some of your candidates will be incumbents, so you can look at their official government websites. Most officials will have issue sections on their websites. Non-incumbent candidates (and incumbent candidates as well) will have campaign websites. Again, look for an “Issues” or “Priorities” section to see if a candidate has taken a stand on public transit and transportation infrastructure issues.
    • Use non-partisan voter websites—The Internet offers numerous resources for finding out where candidates stand on the issues that matter to you.  Check out sites like www.votesmart.org and www.vote411.org to learn more.
    • Contact Candidates—Most campaign and government official websites provide a phone number and email or contact form. Reach out directly to candidates and ask for their positions. You will likely talk to a campaign staffer, and you should ask a specific question to get a specific answer.  For example, rather than simply asking if your candidate supports public transportation, you may want to ask, "Do you support increased investment for public transportation and will you fight for passage of a long-term transportation bill?"
    • Examine Voting Records—This may be more of a challenge, but if a candidate has held public office before—as a mayor, governor, state legislator, or member of Congress—look at online government records for how the candidate has voted on public transit and general transportation issues. You may be able to find info in local newspapers as well. If, for instance, a candidate as a state representative voted against increasing state public transportation funding, that would be a factor to consider.
    • Ask at Events—Throughout October, there will be lots of campaign events happening, including rallies, debates, town halls, and candidate house parties. You may also find candidates and campaign staff making appearances at seasonal public events, such as harvest festivals. Events often provide great opportunities to ask questions about a candidate’s position. Again, be sure to make your questions specific to learn as much as possible. If a campaign staffer doesn’t have an answer, provide your contact information so the campaign can respond later. Simply by asking about public transportation funding, you’re also sending a message that public transportation is a priority for voters in your area.

    Remember to research not only candidates for Congress, but also those running for local and state offices. We need public transportation supporters at all levels of government.

    Planning to Vote

    All of your hard work researching candidates makes a difference when you get out and vote. Be sure you’re prepared for Election Day.

    • Update Your Voter Registration—You can find links to voter registration information at the website of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission or on most state government websites. If you’ve recently moved or it’s been a while since you voted, you’ll need to provide updated information to your state’s election officials.
    • Save the Date—This year’s election takes place on Tuesday, November 4. Mark your calendar and set aside time in your schedule to visit your polling station. If you can’t vote that day, plan on voting by early or absentee ballot.
    • Vote on State and Local Transportation Ballot Measures—Don’t forget to vote on state and local ballot measures that will provide support or funding for public transportation initiatives.

    And be sure to let everyone know—shout from the rooftops of social media—that you’re voting with public transportation in mind.

  • What's Next for Voices for Public Transit

    This summer, Voices for Public Transit demonstrated that we can make an impact on transportation policy. With the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and Mass Transit Account on the brink of insolvency, members sent more than 20,000 emails to Congress, urging action to avert an immediate crisis. With no time left, Congress passed a stopgap measure that provides crucial transportation funding through May 2015.

    While this was an important step for Congress, it simply isn’t enough. Moving forward, Voices for Public Transportation will call on Congress to do much more when it comes to public transportation.

    The Need for Stable, Long-Term Public Transportation Funding

    In a national webcast town hall held, a few days after Congress approved the temporary HTF funding, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx shared his perspective on American transportation policy and what could happen if a long-term solution is not found. According to Secretary Foxx, maintaining the status quo, is not acceptable.

    While transportation advocates, including Voices for Public Transit members, may not share all of Secretary Foxx’s specific positions and priorities, there is significant consensus on some fundamental points, including:

    • America needs stable, long-term transportation funding—Uncertainty and unpredictable funding limit how states and communities envision and move forward with public transportation projects.
    • We need to look forward, not backward—Our nation is growing, and we face increasing environmental challenges. We need forward-looking policies that will support public transportation options for decades to come.
    • Winning federal support for public transportation requires voter engagement—As Secretary Foxx put it, the nation needs to get “noisier” on this issue.

    Gearing Up for Action

    In the weeks to come, Congress and local government officials will focus on the upcoming elections. We encourage Voices for Public Transit members to learn about candidates’ views on transportation issues—and to ask questions about public transportation if the occasion arises at town halls, campaign house parties, and other election events. Your questions will help candidates better understand the importance of public transportation to the American people.

    Once the election is over and Congress returns to work, the Voices for Public Transit movement will be laser-focused on appealing to Congress to pass a long-term, comprehensive public transportation bill. This legislation must not only provide funding, but should also lay out a blueprint for improving and expanding public transportation far and wide across America. We have a lot of work ahead of us—but victory is within reach.

  • USDOT Awards TIGER Grants for Public Transportation Projects

    Early this month, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced that 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia will receive a total of $600 million in federal TIGER—Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery—grants.

    This total represents a significant federal investment in a broad range of transportation projects, including public transportation. But this dollar figure represents less than 7 percent of total grant requests, which totaled $9.5 billion. While the TIGER program—launched in 2009 as part of the federal economic stimulus program—has been highly successful – winning broad bipartisan praise -- it simply cannot meet the funding needs of communities seeking to improve public transportation.

    Public Transportation Highlights

    TIGER grant awards are split among highway, public transit, maritime, and rail projects. For this round, Secretary Foxx said he sought “projects that will make people’s lives easier and connect them to jobs and other opportunities.” Highlights of public transportation projects include:

    • Bus Rapid Transit—Omaha, Nebraska, Richmond, Virginia, and Washoe County (Reno-Sparks), Nevada, each received a TIGER grant to develop bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, which will extend public transportation options into communities whose residents often do not own or have access to private vehicles. For many communities, BRT is an affordable, flexible option for public transportation. Read more about BRT systems.
    • Public Transit Station Improvements—Some public transit systems are not meeting their full potential because of inadequate stations. New TIGER grants will enable improvements at stations in Boston, St. Louis, and other cities. Improvements at Boston’s Ruggles Station will help connect commuters with jobs being created as a result of new development near the station.
    • Streetcars—TIGER grants for streetcar systems will help revitalize city centers in Providence, Rhode Island, and Detroit, Michigan.

     

    The Value—and Shortcomings—of the TIGER Program

    Helping to transform how local transportation projects receive funding, since 2009, the TIGER program has provided $4.1 billion to local communities. During that time, total requests for funding have exceeded $124 billion as communities clamor for transportation investment that will improve their local economies and the quality of life.

    The results of the TIGER program can be seen across the nation—in new and enhanced public transportation systems, as well as improved roadways, traffic management, and intermodal transportation. TIGER grants have reached every state, DC, and Puerto Rico, and 117 grants have been awarded to projects in rural and tribal communities.

    In announcing the latest round of TIGER grants in a blog post, Secretary Foxx bluntly acknowledged the impact of insufficient funding, writing, “[We] have a huge infrastructure deficit in this country, made worse by Congress’s failure to pass a long-term transportation bill. Americans everywhere are seeing their opportunities limited by this inaction.” We couldn’t agree more—that’s why Voices for Public Transit will be repeatedly demanding action from Congress in the months ahead.

  • Sustainability Achievements in Public Transportation


    Fundamentally, public transportation contributes to sustainability and environmental protection. Rail and bus systems enable more people to travel in less space, using less energy. As a result, compared to using personal cars, public transportation systems help reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, and roadway sprawl.

    But many public transportation systems recognize that there is room for more when it comes to sustainability and environmental benefits. For instance, replacing diesel-powered buses with modern clean-fuel, hybrid, or electric buses further reduces air pollution and noise—and makes city streets more welcoming for pedestrians and bike riders. In addition, transportation systems—like any organization—can also look for ways to make their offices and operations more energy-efficient and earth-friendly.

    Since 2009, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has run a Sustainability Commitment Program (SCP) that encourages public transportation systems and affiliated businesses to adopt practices and technologies that contribute to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. In early August, seven organizations—including large and small transit systems—were recognized for their sustainability efforts. Below, we’ve rounded up examples of how these organizations are saving energy, reducing pollution, and more.

    Modernizing Fleets, Cutting Fossil Fuel Use

    In recent years, several American public transportation systems have upgraded their fleets, and this year’s SCP honors recognized the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD). This central Illinois public bus system has reduced air pollution by 46 percent per vehicle mile traveled by converting 45 percent of its bus fleet to diesel-electric hybrids.

    Massachusetts’ largest public transportation system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), has a robust sustainability program that includes conserving energy and water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting sustainable urban development. Its efforts—including the use of electricity from renewable sources—were also recognized this year by the SCP.

    Improving Facilities

    The SCP also encourages “green” practices that are not directly tied to vehicles and fuel. For instance, the Lane Transit District (LTD), located in central Oregon, was recognized for making energy-efficient upgrades to its facilities and expanding recycling and composting. LTD has also committed to including sustainability criteria in all future construction.

    A wide ecosystem of companies and organizations supports public transportation by manufacturing vehicles and other equipment, engineering and building infrastructure, and providing a range of other services. The SCP recognized the sustainability efforts of one major public transportation construction firm, Stacy and Witbeck (SWI). SWI engages in a range of sustainable construction practices, including recycling, using renewable energy, and tracking emissions of its construction fleet.

    Does your local public transportation system have a sustainability program? Tell us about it by posting to the VPT website or commenting on the Public Transportation Facebook and Twitter profiles.

  • International Models for Public Transportation: Hong Kong’s Mini-Buses

    On occasion, we’ve left the borders of the U.S. to look at public transportation systems in other parts of the world. This virtual globe-trotting gives us the chance to learn what might be possible here in the U.S. as we strengthen and expand American public transportation.

    In this installment, we’re headed to Hong Kong, which has adopted a very successful solution for reaching residents who do not live close to main bus routes or rail lines; namely, Public Light Buses (PLBs), also known as mini-buses.

    Small Buses Reach Further, Offer Flexibility

    Hong Kong has a robust multi-modal public transportation system that includes rail, a tram (streetcar) system, and buses. A hilly city, Hong Kong also has funiculars and a system of public escalators and moving sidewalks. As a result of this extensive public transportation infrastructure, the city has the highest rate of public transportation use in the world; more than 90 percent of local trips are made using public transportation.

    Though Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it extends over 426 square miles. (As a point of comparison, Manhattan covers just less than 34 square miles). The city’s expanse, combined with its hilly terrain, means that large buses, let alone rail, cannot reach every neighborhood. To extend public transportation even further, Hong Kong maintains a unique system of about 4,350 mini-buses.

    Seating just 16 people—no standing is allowed—Hong Kong’s mini-buses reach far and wide across the city and into suburban areas. The system is broken into two types of color-coded buses, green and red. Most mini-buses are green and operate on fixed routes with fixed schedules, though riders can also sometimes flag down green mini-buses. Red mini-buses operate more like taxicabs. They do not have fixed routes, schedules, or even fares. All are set by individual drivers, who can respond on the fly to passengers’ needs.

    Could PLBs Be Adopted By Our Nation?

    In the U.S., public transportation systems serving rural areas, small towns, and suburbs sometimes use smaller buses. In addition, paratransit services often use mini-buses or vans, providing on-demand service.

    America’s use of mini-buses could be extended further, in various types of communities, drawing on the model of Hong Kong’s PLBs. By using mini-buses instead of full-size buses, some communities could offer more routes and more frequent service—one of the benefits of Hong Kong’s PLB system. In addition, the flexibility of Hong Kong’s red mini-bus service might be adopted to help customize public transportation to the specific needs of riders and situations. For instance, mini-buses might be more active during inclement weather or in response to seasonal activities (e.g., transportation to a holiday parade).

    Have you ever ridden a Hong Kong mini-bus? Do you have a story to share about public transportation in your community—or elsewhere in the world? Share it with Voices for Public Transit by posting on Facebook or our website.



    Photo: "Red-maxicab-HK" by mailer_diablo - Self-taken (Unmodified). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  • You don’t have to be a Millennial to Travel Like One

    Multiple studies over the past couple of years have confirmed that people in America are driving less, particularly members of the Millennial generation: 18 – 34 year-olds.

    Last year, Voices for Public Transit highlighted two separate studies that found most Millennials use several different modes of transportation each week, and they make choices about where to live and work based on having flexible transportation options.

    But even people who aren’t in the Millennial age group are choosing to use public transportation and other, complementary modes of transportation, like bike shares and van pools, not to mention walking, with greater frequency. Multi-modal transportation systems are the wave of the future, and Voices for Public Transit is all for it!

    So, how “Millennial” are you when it comes to transportation? Take this new quiz from the American Public Transportation Association to find out:
    http://www.publictransportation.org/news/millenial-quiz/index.html

    Be sure to share your results on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #Voices4Transit!

  • Making Public Transportation More Effective and Cost-Efficient

    Voices for Public Transit is dedicated to winning increased investment in American public transportation. Our economy and communities, driven by American mobility, cannot fully thrive if we settle as a nation for the status quo when it comes to public transportation. We need our government to develop a new vision for public transportation—and we need more dollars.

    But we can also learn to use public transit funding more effectively. How do communities—from rural counties to small towns to cities—and states determine what public transportation projects will produce the best results for the investment? What criteria should we use to judge a public transportation proposal? Massachusetts is making a serious effort to answer these questions.

    The Example of Massachusetts’ Project Selection Advisory Council

    In 2013, Massachusetts enacted legislation to fund more than $3 billion in transportation projects, including public transportation, over five years. Under the legislation, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) formed a special Project Selection Advisory Council (PSAC) tasked with making recommendations for “a more uniform, transparent, and data-driven prioritization process” for state transportation system projects. The proposed selection criteria include the following:

    • Safety

    • Mobility/Access

    • Economic Development

    • Social Equity and Fairness

    • Healthy Transportation

    • System Preservation

    These criteria are all anchored by proposed metrics as well. For instance, what is the travel-time reduction of a proposed project? Or, what will be the impact on greenhouse gas emissions?

    Public Comments Welcome—in Massachusetts and Beyond

    Throughout the fall, the Massachusetts PSAC will be holding a series of public hearings to gather feedback about the draft project selection criteria. These meetings (locations, dates, and times can be found here) provide a good opportunity for Massachusetts members of Voices for Public Transit to share their views about the importance of public transportation. The first meeting was held July 29, but there are still several other opportunities to get involved in the discussion.

    Transportation agencies and other government bodies often hold public meetings about transportation projects in order to share their plans and listen to input from constituents. These meetings offer Voices for Public Transit advocates the chance to be heard, and we encourage you to attend when these opportunities arise in your area. It’s critical that officials at all levels of government recognize the strong community support for public transportation. You can often find schedules of upcoming meetings on the websites of local transportation systems, regional transportation agencies, and state departments of transportation.

    If you attend a public transportation meeting or hearing, tell the Voices for Public Transit community about it. You can post on our Facebook page, hit our #Voices4Transit hashtag on Twitter, or share your story on our website.

  • The Tale of Two Transit System Launches

    In late July—just one day apart—two new major American public transportation operations got underway. On Friday, July 25, an estimated 17,000 passengers enjoyed an inaugural ride on the Sun Link—the brand new streetcar system in Tucson, Arizona. And a day later, on July 26, 32,000 Washington-area residents and visitors rode the DC Metro’s new Silver Line—the first entirely new line to be added to the DC rail system since 1991.

    In both cities, there is clearly a strong demand for public transportation. Washington has notoriously congested roadways, and while Dulles International Airport is served by public transit bus lines, it cannot be accessed by Metro rail.

    Tucson is growing rapidly and has seen per capita public transit ridership grow by 25 percent over the last five years. With these changes, the city needed improved public transit options that would reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

    Public Transportation Benefits Two Very Different Cities

    To put it mildly, Washington and Tucson are very different cities. The Washington metropolitan area—the 7th most populous in the U.S.—is home to nearly 6 million people, and it draws commuters from the Baltimore area, which includes another 2.7 million people. In addition, Washington attracts several million visitors every year, many of whom get around town using public transportation.

    In contrast, the Tucson area, with about 1 million people, is the 53rd-largest metropolitan area in the nation. The city has a densely populated central corridor that stretches four miles and takes in the University of Arizona (UA) and downtown.

    For Tucson, a new streetcar line makes perfect sense. Nearly 100,000 people live within a quarter-mile of the Sun Link route, and many other residents can access the streetcar system via Sun Tran buses. Sun Link contributes to the livability of the city and improves access to services, jobs, and the UA campus. Already, since the Sun Link service was announced, a remarkable $1.5 billion has been invested in housing, offices, restaurants, and retail long the streetcar’s route.

    While the Washington Metro has operated since 1976, service did not reach residents in parts of northern Virginia. In addition, the inability to access Dulles airport via the Metro rail added challenges—and headaches—for visitors and residents alike. The Silver Line now reaches several area suburbs and will eventually provide access to Dulles when the second phase of the new route is completed in 2018.

    United by Federal Support

    In spite of their differences, Tucson’s Sun Link and the Metro Silver Line are united by federal support. Sun Link received nearly $83 million in federal funding, about 42 percent of the total cost of the project. Silver Line construction was supported by $900 million in federal funding. While local funding is crucial for public transportation projects, federal support is undeniably instrumental for such large-scale projects.

    Other cities and communities—including yours!—should have similar opportunities to launch or expand local public transportation systems. But for American public transportation to serve a greater cross-section of our nation—including suburbs, small towns, and rural areas—we need a new era of federal government support for public transit. More and more people are using public transportation today—the most since the 1950s—and our nation’s transportation policies must support this sea change in how Americans are getting around.

    Have you shared your views about public transportation? One great way to do so is to post comments and stories on the VPT website, as well as photos and comments on the Public Transportation Facebook and Twitter profiles.  Be sure to participate in the DOT’s call for the American people to make noise by using the hashtag #InvestNow on social media.

    (Photo Credit: Martin Falbisoner)