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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»

  • Public Transit Drives Efficiency, Innovation

    A guest post from Matthew O., Voices for Public Transit member in North Carolina

    As a 28-year-old resident of Wilmington, North Carolina, I rely heavily on my car. Working in the residential construction industry, I am in my car several hours per day, traveling between job sites. Unfortunately, Wilmington does not have a robust public transportation system. I wish they did because I am a big fan of sustainable, green living, and public transit is a big part of that lifestyle.

    Congress Needs to Think Big

    After earning my Associates in Applied Sciences with a focus on solar power and green building, I learned a lot about the great work being done to develop new and innovative public transit methods.

    Our legislators need to take a look at funding more ideas that will not only help us expand the public transit system in the United States but also make it more efficient and user-friendly. What we have is neither practical nor efficient enough to sustain the millions of people who rely on public transit, or those like me, who would take full advantage of it if they had the chance.

    Public Transit Drives Efficiency

    Here in Wilmington, we have public buses, several of which are hybrid or run on natural gas. That’s a step in the right direction. However, I am a big fan of rail, and that is something we just don’t have access to in our area.

    It would be extremely efficient to have a bullet train or hyperloop to Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte from Wilmington; on the East Coast as a whole, it would be game-changing to have a bullet train running all the way up the coast, to Maine. In fact, I travel to Maine regularly, and it takes me 18 hours to drive there. I would much rather get on a train and relax during the trip than spend the time and energy to drive such a long distance.

    It would also be great to see more electric vehicles incorporated into local public transit services. The efficiency of public transit is critical because people can always earn more money, but they can never get their time back.

    Now is the time to get the public and the government focused on public transit innovation in the United States.

  • ICYMI: News and Blogosphere Highlight Value of Public Transit Investment

    Pressure Mounts for Congress to Pass Long-Term Bill

    With another short-term transportation bill due to expire in just weeks, we’re seeing lots of organizations and media outlets covering the crisis.

    The core message of this coverage is clear: Congress must pass long-term transportation funding to support infrastructure improvements that are critical to our economy, our safety, and our way of life.

    Here’s a roundup of thoughtful pieces over the last few weeks. You can borrow these pieces’ arguments and proof points when you talk with friends, family, co-workers, and others about the need for Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. And share the best points when you email your members of Congress and tell them to get the job done.

    At the very least, a great deal of public, media, and lawmaker attention is now focused on the need for dependable transportation funding extending for several years. We also think that many members of Congress don’t want transportation funding to still be unresolved next Congress.

    To learn more about the state of play in Washington, join us on October 14 for our first-ever telephone town hall, “The Fight for Public Transit Funding.” Learn more and sign up now.

  • Update: Divided Congress Is Struggling to Pass Transportation Bill

    The clock is ticking—make your voice heard

    Once again, a short-term transportation bill is set to expire—this time on October 29. Today marks the beginning of our one-month countdown. The clock is ticking for Congress to take action.

    Legislative Update

    Because the U.S. Senate already passed its version of a long-term transportation bill, all attention is focused on the House. While the House is divided across—and even within—parties, there is still a chance that Bill Shuster (R-9-PA), the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will bring the House’s version of a long-term transportation bill to the finish line.

    Once a House bill is passed, it will need to be reconciled with the Senate’s bill, which passed in July. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, recently expressed confidence about House action, noting that Shuster and Paul Ryan (R-1-WI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, were working on a plan to fund transportation for the long term. Unfortunately, Shuster himself has said that another short-term extension may be needed before the House can finish its bill.

    Which Transportation Future Do You Choose?

    Too many Americans feel powerless in the face of congressional inaction. Voices for Public Transit believes we all have a choice:

    • We can hold Congress accountable and put pressure on them that will move them to act this year


    • We can give up and accept that no long-term transportation plan will be coming any time soon

    It’s our government. We can motivate every House member to make long-term transportation funding a priority—if enough of us demand that they do so.

    Email your legislators now.

    Organizations representing virtually every industry recently wrote an impassioned letter to the House to pass a six-year transportation bill, noting that short-term legislation is bad policy: “Temporary program extensions and eight years of recurring Highway Trust Fund revenue crises do not provide a path to future economic growth, jobs, and increased competitiveness.”

    By sending an email now, you will show that individual Americans all around the country refuse to accept further delays and want to see action on this critical issue now.

    Save the Date for Our First-Ever Telephone Town Hall

    Join Voices for Public Transit for a telephone town hall that will bring you up-to-the-minute information about what’s happening in Congress—and how you can make a difference.

    You can join this virtual event by phone from anywhere in the country:

    The Fight for Public Transit Funding
    Wednesday, October 14
    2:00 PM EDT/1:00 PM CDT/12:00 PM MDT/ 11:00 AM PDT
    Register Now

    Register today, and we’ll follow up with additional details on how you can call in to the town hall on October 14.

    Once more, please email your legislators now—and sign up for our town hall.

  • Bipartisan Support for Long-Term Transportation Funding

    For the past two years, Voices for Public Transit—now more than 171,000 members strong—has been calling on Congress to pass comprehensive, long-term transportation legislation that enables the improvement and expansion of public transit.

    The good news is, we are not alone! We’re hearing Democratic and Republican leaders—in Congress and around the country—voicing their support for federal action to create long-term investment in our transportation system.

    Every community depends on transportation infrastructure, so it’s no surprise that leaders across the political spectrum say that the federal government should provide long-term support for transportation—just as it has traditionally done for decades. Here is some of what we’ve heard:

    “We need a long-term solution to our infrastructure needs. It’s a ticking time bomb in a lot of American cities and we’re hoping Congress will act and finally pass a long term bill.”
    — Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (Republican)

    “Having good, reliable transportation options is vital to our long-term economic competitiveness as a city and as a country; it only makes sense to come up with a long-term, sustainable plan to support transportation.”
    — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (Democrat)

    “In order for the City of Dayton, as well as the entire country, to continue to address infrastructure needs, it is imperative that federal funding remain at or be increased over current levels. Funding of the Highway Trust Fund must be a high priority and new sources of revenue must be identified to insure it remains solvent into the future.”
    — Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (Democrat)

    “Governors urge Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that provides the certainty needed to plan for future projects and the flexibility needed to tailor those projects to the unique challenges that face each state.”
    — Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (Republican)

    “[It is] ESSENTIAL to have a long-term bill. 5-6 years is what we should look at.”
    — House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican)

    “[M]y top priority this year is to pass a fiscally responsible, long-term [transportation] bill…. More short-term extensions are not the answer. Our states, industries, and economy need long-term authorizations that ensure funding and allow for the planning of big, long-term projects of regional and national importance.”
    —Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chair James Inhofe (Republican)

    Everyone Benefits from Public Transit

    Public transportation is not a partisan issue, nor should it be. Without federal transportation funding, the quality and availability of all types of transportation decline. Worse, road, bridge, and public transit safety have been jeopardized by a lack of dependable federal funding.

    Write Congress today—even if you’ve written already—and share why you support long-term funding. If you want, you can highlight that you’re in good company—with support coming from a diverse range of elected officials united by their constituents’ need for improved and expanded transportation options.

  • Dallas Public Transit Needs to Grow

    A guest post from Laura W., Voices for Public Transit member in Texas

    Although Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) does the best they can with available resources, the public transit offerings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are inadequate for the size and scope of our metro area.

    While living in Garland, which is a fairly large city unto itself, I had no choice but to commute into Dallas by car for 30 years because there was no direct commuter train line that would take me to my job at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. (DART expanded their reach to the medical center one year after I retired.)

    Now that I’m retired, I use the DART train to get downtown when I have an errand or event in the area; however, despite recent expansion of a few lines, that train still doesn’t go in all directions. It seems that politicking and a severe lack of funding for public transit in our area have overshadowed the need for a better system to serve our expanding ridership.

    Public Transportation Benefits Everyone

    Public transit is important to my community because it serves the transportation needs of people from all walks of life—from working professionals traveling to downtown Dallas, to students and folks who live in underserved areas without access to a car.

    Dallas is still a “car city,” and many millions of dollars have been spent expanding our highways. The downside to all of that expansion has been an uptick in smog and traffic jams, neither of which are pleasant to deal with on a regular basis. If a train was built along I-635, for instance, we could take a significant number of cars off the road, transport more people efficiently, and reduce emissions in the process.

    It is clear to me that more money needs to be spent on public transit development in Dallas, and in our state as a whole. Now is the time to make that investment, so that Dallas, and all of Texas, becomes a cleaner, more efficient state in which to travel.

  • The Conservative Case for Federal Transportation Funding

    Transportation should be a nonpartisan issue. All Americans use the same roads, bridges, and public transit systems. Yet, some conservative voices argue that the federal government should limit or entirely withdraw its support for transportation and leave this responsibility to states and municipalities.

    Recently, the Free Congress Foundation (FCF)—a conservative, free market think tank in Washington—published a detailed paper, “The Case Against Transportation Devolution: A Conservative Perspective,” that strongly supports continued federal investment in transportation infrastructure.

    A History of Support

    The paper argues that breaking the tradition of federal investment in transportation—and leaving decisions and funding to state and local governments—would “balkanize the nation’s transportation networks, cause a substantial drag on the economy, and bring about a host of other serious problems.”

    According to FCF, federal transportation investment not only makes economic and social sense from a conservative perspective, but it is also backed by a conservative understanding of the U.S. Constitution and American history. The Founding Fathers and early elected officials supported federal transportation projects—national roads and lighthouses, for instance—as a way to promote commerce and strengthen the nation.

    The Economy and National Prosperity

    Federal investment enables “an integrated transportation network [that] drives economic growth.” In this regard, public transportation plays a dual role: it (1) connects employers with workers; and (2) it frees up road space so that freight can be trucked more efficiently. Because of these economic benefits, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers “support fully funded highway and transit programs.”

    While author Jack Schenendorf underscores his conservative worldview, he supports his points with nonpartisan historical, legal, and economic facts. The data, he notes, supports investment in all types of transportation, including public transit: “[T]he data makes clear that robust, interconnected, and modern transportation networks are essential to America’s prosperity.”

    Without federal support for transportation, states and municipalities would be unable to fill the void. Some state constitutions even limit transportation funding to road building, which would severely curtail public transit options.

    “If America is to remain the most prosperous, entrepreneurial, and secure nation on the globe in the 21st century, then the federal government and its partners must take decisive action now to create and sustain the pre-eminent multi-modal transportation system in the world… [T]he federal government must provide the leadership and its fair share of the investment to make this happen.” (emphasis added)

    Read the White Paper:The Case Against Transportation Devolution: A Conservative Perspective

  • Safe Transportation: Congress Can Do Better

    Congress’ responsibility to provide funding for transportation is not new. In fact, our Constitution has served as the basis for the federal government to play a significant role in our nation’s transportation and infrastructure system since the nation’s inception, and Congress has long been responsible for organizing, funding, and supporting American transportation—and ensuring that transportation is safe and effective!

    In 1806, Congress sent President Thomas Jefferson a bill that allocated funding to construct the young nation’s first highway, known as the “National Road.” The legislation did not simply provide funding; it also required the President to appoint personnel tasked with appropriate surveying and planning that would lead to construction of a safe, dependable road.

    Since then, the federal government has funded thousands of transportation projects. Transportation of people and goods supports commerce, communications, and the national defense—all responsibilities and powers spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

    Congress established the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1966 as the primary federal agency for, in the words of the USDOT’s mission statement, “ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future” (emphasis added).

    Safety Commitment and Needs

    Over the last five decades, with Congress’s support, the USDOT has developed a wide range of transportation safety programs. In addition, Congress itself—as well as individual members of Congress—also clearly underscores a commitment to safety. According to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s website, “In the 114th Congress, Chairman [Bill] Shuster [R-9-PA] continues to focus his and the Committee’s efforts on promoting the safe and efficient movement of goods and people…” (emphasis added).

    Insufficient Funding Poses Risks

    All aspects of America’s transportation system, from roads and bridges to public transit are experiencing safety issues as our infrastructure falls into disrepair due to a lack of consistent federal funding:

    • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion of investment is needed annually to significantly improve road conditions.

    • According to USDOT, our nation already has a backlog of $86 billion of rail and bus maintenance—needed in part to support safety and reliability.

    • Despite a long history of support for transportation safety, Congress’s rhetoric is now in conflict with its action—or rather, its inaction.

    Congress has failed to pass long-term transportation funding for many years now. Are short-term, patchwork fixes really the best they can do for public transportation? It’s past time for Congress to get back on track by passing long-term transportation legislation that includes needed investments in safety for roads, bridges, rail, and public transit.

    We encourage you to email Congress now and urge them to get the job done.

  • 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.