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 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»

  • Public Transit Investment Supports America’s Knowledge Economy

    America’s economy is increasingly driven by business clusters—concentrated areas where interlinked businesses can innovate and grow together. The most famous is California’s Silicon Valley, home to several of the world’s leading high-tech companies, but clusters are found in many American cities and metropolitan areas, including Denver, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, and Boston.

    A study of sample business clusters across the country found that transportation options play a critical role in fostering their development and expansion. The opposite is true as well: without adequate transportation infrastructure, including public transit, business clusters cannot readily grow or reach their full potential.

    Economics, Road Congestion, and Employee Preferences Drive Demand for Public Transit

    Innovative, knowledge-economy businesses—from software to telecommunications to biotech—often seek to locate or expand close to like-minded businesses and service providers. These businesses not only want locations in proximity to other businesses—and often universities—but also need to make their offices and facilities accessible to employees. A younger, educated workforce—particularly in the high-tech sector—wants to live in walkable communities with multiple transportation options, including access to public transit.

    Current and growing transportation constraints—primarily in the form of congested roadways—weigh on the ability of companies in business clusters to grow and create jobs. When inadequate transportation limits the ability of a company to attract and retain employees, firms may curtail investments in growth or relocate. If a company expands or relocates abroad, it makes a smaller contribution to the U.S. economy and jobs.

    In some instances, to compensate for inadequate transportation options, companies have even invested in their own private transit systems. Such investments may benefit employees, but they increase costs for the business and have led to conflicts within some communities.

    A better solution is the expansion of public transportation that serves entire regions and their business clusters. Improved public transportation options would significantly drive job creation in American business clusters. Separate from other factors, public transit improvements alone could lead to the creation of 480,000 jobs in business clusters by 2040.

    The Role of Federal Transportation Funding

    Sensible, long-term federal investment in public transportation projects will support what urban economists call “agglomeration”—the concentration of more people in a defined place, such as a downtown area or commercial hub. Public transportation is essential for enabling people to reach and travel within these densely populated areas—without losing excess time stuck in traffic.

    In these concentrated areas—which sometimes constitute business clusters—wages and economic productivity are higher. Employers and employees alike benefit. These benefits, however, are not limited to only large urban areas. A study of 300 U.S. regions determined that investing in public transportation services makes financial sense for regions of virtually any size.

    But for these benefits to be realized across the nation, Congress must provide long-term, dependable funding so that regions can improve and expand public transportation.

  • Congress Passes Three-Month Transportation Funding Extension

    It has happened again. Once more—for the 34th time since 2009—Congress has only managed to pass a short-term patchwork transportation funding bill. This time, the extension lasts just three months, running through October 29.

    The U.S. Senate, however, did pass a transportation bill with three years of funding. This is great news—and it encourages the House to respond. This is a good first step and it increases the likelihood that the House and Senate can agree to a six-year comprehensive transportation solution before short-term funding runs out again.

    What Happened?

    In late July, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan transportation bill with funding for three years. The legislation isn’t perfect, but it would provide an increase in public transit funding and enable systems to improve and expand.

    The Senate legislation could not make it to the finish line before transportation funding ran out on July 31, so the full Congress passed a three-month bill to provide a temporary stream of transportation dollars to the states while they continue to debate the long-term bill. Here are some of the key factors that will affect debate over the next three months:

    • The long-term bill requires more review. Senators McConnell’s and Boxer’s legislation is more than 1,000 pages long, and many lawmakers want more time to review such a complex bill—which they should.
    • Questions still remain about how funding will be provided for six years. Although the bill provides a six-year commitment to transportation funding, it only specifies where the funding will come from for the first three years. Some lawmakers want to ensure funding is allocated for all six years before they agree to the legislation.
    • The transportation bill is currently tied to other issues. The Senate’s transportation bill includes an unrelated provision: renewal of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides financial support that helps U.S. companies export products and services. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-23-CA) singled out this issue as a potential barrier to House consideration of the Senate’s bill.

    What’s Next?

    When Congress reconvenes in September, they face several deadlines and have many issues to address, including transportation funding. With your help, Voices for Public Transit will be encouraging House and Senate leaders to work cooperatively to come up with a long-term bill that both chambers can agree on. “This three-month extension is necessary. My commitment is, right after it’s done, we all have to sit down ... and say what we’re willing to do,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Schuster (R-9-PA).

    While we are hopeful that Congress can reach an agreement on long-term transportation legislation, we must continue to demand that Congress do better this year than they’ve been able to in the past. It’s important for Voices for Public Transit to keep up the pressure. Tell Congress to make passing a long-term transportation bill a priority when they return to work in September.

    • What Does an Ideal Transportation Network Look Like?

      At the most basic level, an ideal multi-modal national transportation network will support flexibility and choice to meet the mobility needs of all Americans. One size cannot fit all—and we need strong support for the greatest range of transportation options.

      At the same time, we need as a nation to acknowledge that we cannot meet the needs of a rapidly growing population by simply building more roads and adding more cars to those roads. We need a transportation network that gives more people better access to efficient public transit. In addition, our transportation needs are evolving, and millions of people use multiple forms of transportation—sometimes even on the same trip.

      Instead of setting policies separately for highways, streets, public transportation, bicycling, and other transportation infrastructure, Congress needs to recognize that all forms of transportation work together.

      Multi-Modal Transportation to Meet America’s Diverse Needs

      A truly 21st-century transportation network, capable of supporting our growing population—drivers and non-drivers alike—would enhance the interconnectedness of our roads with more travel options—additional buses, as well as more rail, and more safe and convenient bike and walking paths. We need a system that is multi-modal in which all modes seamlessly connect to each other.

      Though America’s roads and bridges have deteriorated in recent years—in part due to inconsistent federal transportation funding—we have a world-class road and highway system that provides a robust interconnected network. But the Interstate Highway System was authorized in 1956 when the U.S. had about 170 million people. We now need to support the mobility of more than 320 million Americans—and that number is growing rapidly.

      We can better leverage the value of established roads and highways with stronger connections between different types of transportation, including public transit. We need comprehensive transportation policies that help create a truly interconnected transportation network, within individual communities and between communities and states.

      An ideal transportation system will support all the modes of transit and connect them to each other, including:

      • Buses, mini-buses, and bus rapid transit.
      • Streetcars, commuter rail, regional rail, and high-speed rail.
      • Cabs, rideshare services, van pools, ferries, and private cars.
      • Walking, biking, and more.

      These choices would enable greater mobility and flexibility for all. They would also help combat road congestion and air pollution.

      This ideal multi-modal system would be flexible and robust enough to meet the wide-ranging itineraries of the American people. Options that primarily serve weekday, nine-to-five commuters are no longer sufficient. Our transportation network—for private cars and public transportation and everything in between—must meet all of the following types of travel:

      • Short, inner-city trips.
      • Commuter trips—connecting suburbs and city centers.
      • Regional trips—from one city to a nearby city.
      • Long-distance trips.
      • Rural to city travel.
      • Late-hour and weekend travel.

      We cannot transform our nation’s transportation system overnight—but it can be transformed. It has already happened several times in U.S. history. The transcontinental rail system, completed in 1869, represents one transformation. The construction of the Interstate Highway System and the rise of jet travel are two others.

      These historical transportation advances provided new options that benefited virtually all Americans. They each improved mobility, drove economic growth, and brought our nation closer together.

      It can happen again—and it has to start with leadership and funding from Congress.

    • What Congress Risks By Not Funding Public Transportation

      Public transportation not only provides mobility for millions of Americans, but it also helps power local economies, reduce air pollution, promote public health, and support community growth. Federal funding plays a crucial role in enabling public transit systems around the country to improve and expand.

      With federal funding for transportation due to run out on July 31, Congress must understand what’s at risk if they fail to act. Inconsistent, short-term transportation funding has already left many communities with stalled public transit projects. Matters will only grow worse if Congress again fails to pass a long-term transportation bill.

      Here are just a few examples from communities of all sizes around the nation:

      San Francisco — San Jose Area

      California’s Bay Area has some of the worst traffic in the nation. The technology industry drives economic growth across the Bay Area, but the sector is especially concentrated in the Silicon Valley, running from south of San Francisco down to the San Jose area. Public transportation would be improved by an expansion of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) that would bring the commuter train system to San Jose. But the proposed multi-billion dollar expansion depends on federal support.

      In calling for a long-term transportation bill, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said that Congress needs to look toward the future, just as Silicon Valley innovators help invent the future.

      “We look to the future, we have the vision to invest in the future. And we need a Congress that has the same vision that we have in Silicon Valley.”

      BART’s expansion to San Jose will take years to complete, which is why a commitment to funding is needed now. Without a strong federal transportation bill, though, even immediate BART improvements are threatened, according to BART Director Nick Josefowitz. BART has funded 775 new rail cars, but it needs 1,000 to provide the needed levels of service and reliability. The extra 225 cars require federal investment from Congress.

      Santa Cruz, California
      Metro CEO Alex Clifford said that without consistent long-term federal funding, the local bus system could go into a “downward spiral.”

      Snohomish County, Washington
      Federal funding is crucial to the launch of a new bus line in the county. “Thriving communities like ours are dependent upon a strong transportation system,” said County Executive John Lovick.

      Lake County, Ohio
      Public transit official Raymond Jurkowski highlighted the need for federal funds for operating assistance “to meet future demand for all Ohio urban and rural transit systems.”

      The consequences of not funding public transportation are real. Congress needs to recognize that failure to pass a multi-year transportation bill will impact the quality of life for millions of Americans.

      Following yet another short-term extension — this time just for two months — Congress has until July 31 before federal funding for public transportation runs out. The time for action is now.

      Make sure Congress hears from as many Voices for Public Transit as possible. Tell your friends and family to get involved today!

    • Are You Playing Our Online Scavenger Hunt?

      In case you’ve missed it, Voices for Public Transit has been holding an online scavenger hunt to highlight the importance of public transit—and why Congress needs to pass a long-term transportation funding bill before the deadline of July 31, when current funding is set to run out.

      Do you know…

      • What commuter rail system operates with the oldest rail cars in the U.S?

      • What bus system uses citizen drivers who drive buses, reach their destination, and then go to their regular jobs at the end of the line?

      • What was the first federally funded bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the country?

      These are just some of the questions we’re been asking in our scavenger hunt. Head to the Public Transportation Facebook page to find the latest question and clues—and then play along.

      How it Works

      Each week, we’ll post a new question and provide three clues, each on a different day.

      When you think you have the answer, share your guess by posting a comment on Facebook or replying on Twitter. If you prefer, you can email your answer to info@voicesforpublictransit.org. We’ll highlight the first 10 people to get the right answer.

      In addition to being fun, our scavenger hunt shows examples of how public transportation is working for America. And when you share questions, clues, and answers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, you help spread the word about the importance of public transportation.

      After the success of April’s National Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, May’s Online Rally to Rebuild America, and the 10th Annual Dump the Pump day in June, Congress is starting to get the message that Americans don’t just want them to pass comprehensive, long-term funding for public transportation—they need them to.

      Our scavenger hunt—along with more letters to Congress—will help keep the pressure on Congress to take action before transportation funding again expires on July 31.

    • Transit Systems Help Fulfill Our #PledgeToRide

      On June 18, Voices for Public Transit participants took to the streets…by way of their local buses, streetcars, and rail systems. Leaving their cars at home, they didn’t have to drive white-knuckled in heavy traffic or struggle to find parking.

      Instead, they took part in the 10th annual National Dump the Pump Day—an event highlighting the value of public transportation for communities, the environment, and household budgets.

      Voices for Public Transit supporters also participated by taking the online #PledgeToRide and posting their support on Facebook and Twitter. By spreading the word on social media, transit supporters reached more than 287,261 people online. Check out some of the photos we got from public transit advocates across the country:



      Highlights from Around the Country

      Transit systems around the country made it easy, fun, and affordable for people to leave their cars behind. All told, 176 public transit systems and another 46 organizations participated in the annual event.

      Public transportation plays an important role in American communities of all sizes, so it was great to see the variety of systems taking part in the event. Just a few highlights include:

      • Springfield, Missouri—For City Utilities Transit Services, one day of celebration wasn’t enough. Dump the Pump Day—with free rides—was just one part of “Communities in Motion Week,” which also included a blood drive and a salute to veterans.

      • Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, Pennsylvania—Bus systems in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas offered free rides, highlighting the economic and environmental benefits of using public transportation. Both systems serve urban centers and surrounding communities.

      • Los Angeles and Orange County, California—In the entertainment capital of the world, transit officials delivered their message in dramatic fashion. During a press event, a motorcycle officer served divorce papers on a car. L.A. Metro President Phil Washington explained that area residents can save almost $13,000 a year by divorcing their cars.

      Where is Congress?

      National Dump the Pump Day helped serve notice to Congress that Americans are waiting for a long-term transportation funding measure. The current short-term extension of transportation funding runs out in less than six weeks—on July 31.

      Because of shortcomings in public transportation funding, approximately 45 percent of Americans have no access to public transportation. If Congress is serious about helping Americans get around, they will find a way not only to maintain the transportation system that we have, but also support the expansion of transportation options for every community in the nation. Time is running out to find a solution this year.

    • Pledge to Ride

      On June 18, unite with people around the country to give up your car for the day. Instead, ride public transportation, bike, or walk to work and other destinations as part of the 10th annual National Dump the Pump Day.

      It’s Happening Nationwide—and Online

      Many public transit systems around the country will be providing free rides, giving away prizes, and running contests to encourage people to leave their cars at home and explore the advantages of public transportation.

      You can help raise awareness and encourage others to get involved in just three quick steps:

      1. Download our “Pledge to Ride” poster
      2. Snap a picture of yourself holding the poster
      3. Post your “Pledge selfie” on our Facebook event page

      Why It Makes Sense to Ride Public Transit

      Riding public transportation helps your budget, your community, and our planet. Consider these facts:

      • By downsizing to one car and using public transportation, a two-person household can save nearly $9,400 a year on average.
      • Public transit use cuts carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. More public transit use and fewer cars on the road will lead to further carbon reductions.
      • The more people who use public transit—and call on our elected officials to make it a priority—the more it will continue to grow and connect us.

      Help us show America that the Voices for Public Transit community doesn’t just talk the talk—we walk the walk. Pledge to ride public transit Thursday, June 18—then share pictures of yourself fulfilling the pledge.

    • Voices for Public Transit Rally to Rebuild America

      On May 13, as part of the online Rally to Rebuild America, thousands of advocates united to call on Congress to pass long-term transportation funding.

      We emailed legislators, sent letters to editors of local papers, and posted photos on our Facebook Rally to Rebuild America page. Our message was LOUD and CLEAR: We need real investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

      The Rally to Rebuild America

      During our virtual Rally to Rebuild America, we were joined by mayors from all around the country. They went to Capitol Hill in person to reiterate that cities and communities of all sizes need consistent, long-term funding for transportation.

      Voices for Public Transit and other online supporters reinforced the mayors’ message by:

      • Sending more than 11,000 emails to Congress
      • Delivering more than 22,000 petition signatures to every congressional office
      • Reaching more than 300,000 people online through our Facebook event

      Congress knows Americans want a long-term transportation bill before funding expires. Funding was set to expire on May 31, but Congress has passed yet another short-term extension, moving the deadline to July 31. While we are glad Congress isn’t going to let transportation funding come to a complete stop, we need more than just quick fixes—we need real solutions.

      What Happens Next?

      One way or another, we will hear from Congress in the coming weeks. If Congress cannot deliver a long-term solution to our transportation funding crisis by July 31, we expect at the very least to see a timetable for Congress to pass a comprehensive transportation bill. The American people deserve assurances—real assurances set by a vote in the House and Senate—that a long-term bill is on the way. America is watching and we will remember how Congress acts—or doesn’t act—on this issue.

      Stay tuned.

    • Schools Compete at Sustainable Transportation Competition

      Schools Compete at Sustainable Transportation Competition

      Voices for Public Transit know America’s future is riding on public transportation. We need a totally transformed national transportation network that enables the mobility of our growing population for decades to come.

      But transportation entails much more than the physical infrastructure of buses, rail cars, roads, bridges, and rail. The future of transportation depends on people—future leaders, planners, inventors, engineers, technologists, and operators. We need members of the next generation to understand the importance of public transportation and to pursue careers in this critical arena.

      Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP)

      In 2005, Congress upped the ante on transportation-focused education by establishing the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP). Garrett Morgan (1877-1963) was an African American inventor who designed an early traffic signal.

      As part of GAMTTEP, transportation systems, companies, and organizations partner with middle school classes in their region to compete in the Garrett Morgan Symposium competition to prepare and present projects focused on sustainable transportation. The winning classroom is awarded $1,000.

      Go Gaithersburg Middle School!

      For the 2015 competition, the American Public Transportation Association sponsored Gaithersburg (Maryland) Middle School, which created an animated video about the value of public transportation.

      We’re super-proud of the great work of the Gaithersburg Middle School team, who drew on key transportation facts and figures to make a spirited case for public transportation. The video emphasizes a central point of the public transportation community, namely that, “Where public transportation goes, community grows.”

      Congratulations to all of the participants. It’s great to see young people getting excited about public transportation. Our nation will be riding on their vision.

    • Help Us Rally to Rebuild America

      Congress knows the score. They only have until the end of May to come up with legislation that puts American public transportation back on track.

      After Stand Up 4 Transportation Day, Congress recognizes that people all around the country are watching and waiting for action. But will they muster the courage and political will to get the job done?

      On May 13, as part of National Infrastructure Week’s Advocacy Day, Voices for Public Transit is joining forces with dozens of other organizations and mayors from around the country for the Rally to Rebuild America.

      Keeping the Pressure on Congress

      Starting now, we’re building toward May 13 so that voices from around the country amplify the message delivered by the nation’s mayors and Infrastructure Week advocates on Capitol Hill.

      There are several additional actions you can take to make sure we keep the pressure on Congress:

      Here’s how you can join the rally and help us put pressure on Congress to pass long-term transportation funding:

      You don’t have to wait until May 13 to get involved—feel free to start taking action now! Even if you’ve written already written your elected officials, please write again as part of the Rally to Rebuild America.

      If Congress fails to act, cities of every size will see declines in their bus and rail operations. The cost of Congress’s failure could translate into a $227 billion blow to community economies over the next six years. In addition, at least 66 public transportation projects would be at risk.

      When America’s mayors visit Capitol Hill, they’ll be accompanied by a diverse group of business, community, and labor leaders. On many issues, business and labor don’t see eye to eye. But on transportation, there is wide agreement that our nation must start to address our transportation challenges now—before we slip further behind.

      The Rally to Rebuild America is your chance to make your voice heard as we rally one more time for public transportation and the roads, bridges, and ports we all rely on! Join the Rally today!