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.

The Latest

  • A Look at the Public Transportation Supply Chain

    American public transportation carries more than 35 million people every weekday. This massive undertaking is made possible by a $66 billion public transportation sector that directly employs about 400,000 people.

    The employment and economic value of American public transportation reaches much further than just mobility. The government investment made in public transportation supports millions of private-sector jobs all across the country. In fact, more than 70 percent of government funding for public transit flows through the private sector.

    These private-sector jobs are part of a critical, but often unseen, public transportation supply chain. When Washington focuses on infrastructure in the coming months, members of Congress should remember that public transportation investments benefit a broad array of American businesses.

    What Makes Up the Public Transportation Supply Chain?

    Private-sector companies across the United States serve the public transit industry in many ways. In some cases, local businesses with various specialties provide services to their area's transit system. In other instances, larger manufacturers or nimble software companies serve public transit systems in many states. What do all these companies do?

    • Vehicle and Parts Manufacturers — America’s public transit supply chain includes manufacturers of rail cars, buses, and vehicle equipment and parts, such as electric systems, chassis, and interiors. Public transportation manufacturers can be found in more than 30 states.
    • Equipment Manufacturers and Suppliers — Public transit operations rely on much more than vehicles. Think of the public transit system in its entirety: rail platforms, escalators, shelters, safety equipment, fare collection systems, and more are all pieces of the public transportation supply chain.
    • Professional Support — Engineers, architects, transportation planners, and other professional specialties are instrumental to building and maintaining the public transit ecosystem. Some public transit systems also retain advertising and public relations agencies, outside accountants, and attorneys in addition to the full-time staff who support their day-to-day operations.
    • Service Providers — Public transportation systems contract with private-sector companies to provide a range of services, such as security, facility maintenance, vehicle repair, and more.
    • Emerging Technologies — Public transportation systems invest in innovation to improve their operations. Companies specializing in clean fuels and vehicles, safety technologies, and software, Wi-Fi service, and apps are all part of the public transportation supply chain.

    The takeaway: Public transportation has positive employment, economic, and innovation impacts for communities across the nation because this industry supports a large, diversified supply chain. Congress needs to recognize this bigger picture when it takes steps to improve and expand America’s transportation infrastructure. Money invested in public transit is money that supports much more than just mobility.

  • Public Transportation Drives Property Values and Investment

    When you think of mobility, you think of people moving from place to place… but do you ever think of home values when you think of public transportation?

    Public Transit Boosts Real Estate

    Real estate and property values may not be top of mind when we consider the role of public transportation, but when homes are located near rail or bus lines, the property value performs better compared to homes that are not located near high-frequency public transportation. Following the housing crisis in 2009, homes located within a half-mile of high-frequency public transportation service continued to increase in value, performing 42 percent better than other homes.

    Thousands of neighborhoods near rail lines have seen their housing values outperform the national average. Communities built around public transportation services, known as “transit-oriented development” (TOD), saw home values grow by 37 percent compared to the national average of 20 percent. Since 1996, home values in TOD areas have grown nearly twice as fast as home values nationally.

    Housing costs may be higher close to transit, but residents often enjoy lower transportation costs. People living in TODs spend 13 percent of their income on transportation compared to the national average of 18 percent.

    Both Rail and Buses Attract Investment

    Rail service attracts a range of investments beyond residential property. In Portland, Oregon, a new light rail line opened in 2015. When the line was under construction, developers recognized that the new service would support commerce and residential living, which attracted numerous investments near the line. When service opened on the new line, more than 480,000 square feet of new educational and research space opened as well, with plans for large mixed-use developments to follow.

    Bus rapid transit (BRT) can also drive economic development. BRT systems provide the benefits of rail with the flexibility of traditional bus systems. Typically, BRT buses operate in dedicated lanes and may have right-of-way at intersections, enabling faster travel. A recent study found that BRT corridors — areas within a half-mile of BRT service — saw increased levels of office space development, residential investment, and high-wage job creation.

    Cleveland’s HealthLine BRT system is a 6.8-mile line that cost about $50 million to build and has attracted an estimated $5.8 billion in development. This translates into a $114 return on every $1 of public transit investment.

    Voices for Public Transit advocates should remind elected officials that investments in public transit pay economic dividends as well as providing mobility and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans.

  • Public Transportation Helps Communities Thrive

    Voices for Public Transit is looking beyond the dollars and cents to see how public transit helps create strong communities that benefit everyone in them.

    This is the third blog in our 2017 kickoff series to highlight the many benefits of public transportation. In our first two posts, we examined the economic and employment benefits that come from investment in public transit.

    Safer, More Efficient Travel

    Public transportation makes traveling safer by reducing injuries from accidents, ultimately saving lives. Riding public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car. In addition, all forms of transportation are safer in regions with a strong public transit system, improving the lives of all residents including those who do not use public transportation.

    Fewer people using individual cars = less road congestion for everyone. Without public transportation, travel delays would be significantly worse — and research shows that this applies to regions of all sizes. Large, urban regions — such as the New York metropolitan area — see the greatest benefits in terms of saved time and dollars, but smaller, less densely populated communities benefit as well.

    Healthier Communities

    You may not realize it, but those who use public transportation see not just economic benefits but health benefits as well. Using public transit often requires a level of physical activity — such as standing at a station or walking to a final destination. These benefits are so significant that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends expanding public transit to improve public health.

    Public transportation use also reduces air pollution. Fewer cars on the roads mean less exhaust, improving the air quality for the entire community.

    Vibrant Commercial and Entertainment Districts

    Cultural, commercial, and retail districts are all stimulated by public transportation access. Communities with strong public transportation systems are able to attract more visitors, host successful public events, and support local commerce. In addition, the availability of public transit reduces the need for parking lots, freeing up additional space for housing, commercial buildings, plazas, and city parks.

    On top of providing economic benefits, public transit-supported districts give communities a sense of “place,” increasing social interaction, and contributing to neighborhood safety and stability. People who cannot drive or do not have access to a vehicle, like seniors, students, and people with disabilities, can still access neighborhoods with public transportation.

    Public transportation knits communities together. The economics of public transportation are hugely positive, and the benefits of public transportation go deeper than just financial savings. Public transit transforms our communities and improves our daily lives, whether we ride it every day ourselves or not.

  • Public Transportation: The Local Job Connection

    Direct and Indirect Jobs

    Investments in all forms of transportation spur job creation, but this is especially true of investments in public transportation.

    Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports approximately 50,000 local jobs. In particular, public transportation spurs the development and expansion of business clusters — regions where interconnected businesses speed economic growth and job creation for their areas. Congested roadways and insufficient transportation options tend to slow job growth. Investments in public transit improvements could lead to the creation of an estimated 480,000 jobs in business clusters by 2040.

    Expanded public transportation services will also create more direct employment. Today, approximately 7,200 public U.S. transportation organizations employ about 400,000 people. New technologies not only continue to make public transportation more efficient, but also create more work opportunities.

    Job Access

    Public transportation doesn’t just support jobs by attracting investments near transit lines. It also connects employers to employees, and gives people access to a wider array of employment options. For people who can’t drive — for instance, due to a disability — or who don’t have access to a car, public transportation can be life-changing when it comes to their professional opportunities.

    In a study conducted by Harvard University researchers, access to public transit was found to be the No. 1 factor for lifting people out of poverty. Reliable transportation enables greater employment options for lower-income Americans. When public transportation is unavailable and commute times are long, poverty rates are higher.

    When people are mobile, they can also participate more broadly in the economy — by accessing shopping, events, and services, thereby stimulating more jobs in each of these sectors.

    Not every member of Congress recognizes the value of public transportation, and some don’t realize the relationship between public transportation and job creation. When we advocate for public transportation, let’s be sure to connect the dots between public transit and local job and employment growth.

  • Like Economic Development? Support Public Transit.

    One of the most powerful arguments in favor of increased investment in public transportation is its role in supporting and stimulating our economy.

    Spurring Economic Development

    Public transportation fosters economic development, real estate investment, and local job creation. Investments in the planning and construction of new public transportation projects provide a short-term economic stimulus but also lead to long-term, cumulative impacts on economic growth and productivity. Outcomes vary by region and project, but it’s estimated that a $1 billion public transportation investment over a 20-year period results in a $3.7 billion economic boost.

    What does this boost look like? In regions across the country, public transit networks attract new businesses, residential expansions, office building development, recreation hubs, and sports facilities. In addition, a strong transportation infrastructure that includes public transit fosters the growth of business clusters.

    A study of 300 U.S. regions concluded regions of all sizes benefit economically from investments in public transportation.

    Cutting Costs

    Investing in public transportation will reduce the enormous cost our nation pays for traffic congestion. In 2014, Americans spent an estimated 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic, which represents about $160 billion in lost time and fuel costs — $960 per average motorist. By 2020, this could rise to $192 billion. Improved and expanded public transportation will enable us to limit traffic-related losses and make the general flow of commerce more efficient.

    At the individual level, public transportation also benefits household budgets. Commuting to work via public transportation instead of driving in a private car provides an annual average savings of about $9,700 per person.

    Economic Opportunity

    It’s clear that public transit connects people to jobs and educational opportunities. Public transportation also enables people without access to a car or who can’t drive to participate in the local economy — to reach shopping, dining, events, and services. This includes seniors, youth, people with disabilities, and lower-income Americans.

    Right now, Congress is focusing a lot of attention on creating jobs and lifting our nation’s economy. Public transportation provides an essential service to millions of Americans — and every American (not just riders) benefits from reduced air pollution, less congested roads, and increased local economic activity.

    Public transportation isn’t just a service; it is an economic engine. This is a message Washington should remember as it turns its attention to revitalizing America’s infrastructure.

    Public transportation serves a critical need, providing mobility for millions of Americans. And yes, for many people, it is the only option for reaching work, accessing medical care, and connecting with friends and family, all of which are public goods in and of themselves. But our elected leaders need to see the bigger picture — the picture in which public transit is a cornerstone of a modern transportation network that drives economic growth and community development nationwide.

  • America United for Public Transportation

    The 2016 election showed Americans are deeply divided on many issues, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, a post-election poll found that one topic earning near-unanimous approval is public transportation.

    This American Public Transportation Association (APTA) poll, taken just days after the election, confirms strong bipartisan support for continued investment in public transportation. The results were clear: A majority of voters on both sides of the aisle favor increased funding for public transportation.

    Poll and Election Results Show Bipartisan Support

    The findings underscore the actions of voters in red and blue states alike, as they overwhelmingly supported local public-transit measures on their 2016 ballots. Californians passed many measures, including major funding initiatives in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, citizens in Maine approved a statewide transportation measure that includes support for public transit.

    Voters in swing and more conservative states also passed large-scale transportation measures. In Atlanta, Greensboro, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., voters all approved measures to fund improved and expanded public transportation. In Indianapolis — the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence — voters agreed to a measure that would provide funding for expanded service and new lines for the IndyGo bus system.

    Bipartisan Leadership and Community Support for Public Transportation

    Widespread, bipartisan support for public transportation is not a new trend. In 2015, elected officials from across the political spectrum — including mayors, governors, and members of Congress — supported long-term transportation legislation that included increased funding for public transit.

    A broad range of local and national organizations also voiced their support for public transportation in the months leading up to passage of 2015’s FAST Act. Supporters included labor unions, professional organizations and business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Help Us Welcome Congress to Washington

    Voices for Public Transit advocates are making sure new and returning members of Congress know public transit is an issue everyone agrees on.

    We believe Congress can help unite the nation by focusing on issues on which a majority of voters share common ground — and public transportation would be a great place to start.

  • Making Public Transportation a Priority in 2017

    As the year winds down, we want to look ahead to the opportunities — and challenges — for advancing public transportation in 2017.

    President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear his administration will focus on improving America’s infrastructure. During his campaign, he championed a plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade.

    This should encourage public transportation advocates, but we know that a divisive political climate will hinder passing any kind of legislation while making policy prediction difficult. Even President-elect Trump’s fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said infrastructure is not a top priority.

    It is possible a middle ground will be reached and an infrastructure bill (albeit on a smaller scale) considered in the first months of the year. Whether we actually see a record-setting $1 trillion infrastructure bill or a more modest plan, the goal of Voices for Public Transit is to ensure improving and expanding public transportation remains of utmost importance among all the priorities vying for funding.

    Public Transportation Supports Key Trump Priorities

    We think it safe to assume that President-elect Trump, as a New Yorker, knows firsthand how public transportation encourages economic development in local communities. It enables people to reach jobs, access services and participate in local commerce. Public transportation also supports real estate development and vibrant communities — points that should resonate with the new president.

    The benefits of public transportation are not limited to large cities. Investment in public transportation can stimulate job creation and investment in exurban and suburban communities, as well as provide residents of rural communities access to a wider array of jobs and educational opportunities — all of which represent key portions of Trump’s initiative to put Americans back to work. Voices for Public Transit will take steps to ensure Washington maintains its commitment to public transportation and understands the great extent to which our country would benefit.

    Let’s Welcome Congress to Washington

    In January, members of the 115th United States Congress will begin their work. The House and Senate mostly will be made up of returning officials, but there will be many new faces as well.

    As our first action next year, Voices for Public Transit will be welcoming all members of Congress—new and returning — to Washington. We’ll be communicating with public officials to highlight our advocacy movement and underscore the importance of public transportation to the future of our nation. Voices for Public Transit members should be ready to act to let Washington know not only that we support public transit but why public transit is such an important resource for our nation’s future.

    Please be on the lookout early next year for the launch of our “Welcome to Washington” initiative. If you’re not already on our email list, please sign up now — and encourage your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and others to join our effort.

  • VPT Votes 2016: Time to Vote for Public Transit!

    According to a recent editorial in the New York Times, 2016 “could be record year for transportation ballot proposals, because local politicians and voters have realized that Congress is not coming to rescue America’s aging bridges, roads and transit systems.”

    Many of the transportation measures on ballots today will either strengthen or hinder local public transit for years — even decades.

    We urge you to support measures in your area that will provide critical funding for public transportation initiatives. We’ve highlighted some key examples of transportation ballot measures facing voters across the country:

    But, of course, the most important ballot measure is always the one on YOUR local ballot. And today is the day you can make the most difference for public transit in YOUR area.

    Tips for Voting

    Voting is a pretty straightforward process, but here are some tips to make your trip to the polls as smooth as possible.

    • Complete Your Research Before Heading to the Polls — Take some time to read about issues and candidates online so you know how you’ll be casting your vote before you head to the polls.
    • Find Your Polling Place and Hours — You can find out where to vote by visiting the website of your state or local election office. Some resources for finding polling locations include and Get to the Polls. You can also just search on Google: “Where do I vote?”
    • Plan Your Travel — Find the best route to your polling place, and consider riding public transit if it’s available.
    • Leave Time for Lines — Many polling places are anticipating long lines this year. Allow plenty of time to travel and wait.
    • Bring Your Photo ID (not required in all states) — If you have a photo ID (e.g., a driver’s license), bring it to the polls. Some states require photo ID, while some request it even though it isn’t required.

    Let others know on social media that you’ve voted and urge them to vote as well. You can encourage your online networks to support public transit at the polls by sharing a Voices for Public Transit election graphic from our VPT Votes 2016 Election Toolkit.

    Please return to the Voices for Public Transit blog soon to read our round-up of election results. Our fingers are crossed for public transit.

  • Supoort Public Transportation with Election Toolkit Flyer

    Americans across the country are already voting — by absentee and mail-in ballots. But there’s still time to encourage your friends, family, co-workers, and others to support public transportation when they vote.

    Voices for Public Transit’s Election Toolkit includes a window sign and social media graphics to help show your support for public transportation.

    The toolkit also includes a “Vote for Public Transit” flyer that highlights some great facts and messages that make the case for public transportation, including:

    • Everyone benefits from public transportation — even people who don’t ride.
    • Public transportation is a far safer way to commute than traveling by private car.
    • Public transit reduces pollution and eases traffic congestion.

    Share Online and Offline

    Our “Vote for Public Transit” flyer can be easily downloaded and emailed to others. You can also share it on social media. But we especially encourage you to print copies of the flyer and hand out as many as possible. Here are some ideas:

    • Place copies on the tables or counter of your workplace’s kitchen, break room, or cafeteria.
    • Leave a small stack in a public area of your apartment building; e.g., on a foyer table.
    • Pin a copy on a library or church basement bulletin board.
    • Hand out copies to your neighbors or leave them at their doors — just remember not to place them in a mailbox.

    Do you have ideas for sharing our flyer? Let us know by tweeting @APTA_Transit or posting on the Public Transportation Facebook page.

    And remember to vote yourself! We look forward to reporting back how public transportation fares in this year’s election. Fingers crossed.

  • A Sign of the Times: Raising Awareness of Public Transit before Election Day

    Most campaign signs are for candidates. You can stand out in your neighborhood — or at work — by posting an election window sign on an issue that impacts all of us: public transportation.

    Download and Print the Voices for Public Transit Window Sign

    Your sign will raise awareness about local public transportation measures and remind voters to look down their ballots and vote to support public transit. In addition, your sign will help connect voters with Voices for Public Transit!

    Window Signs Aren’t Just for Windows Anymore

    We recognize that not everyone has a good, visible window for a hanging a campaign sign. Or maybe hanging signs is against your building’s rules. Here are some other ideas for using the window sign:

    • Post a window sign on your cubicle or office door.
    • Make a yard sign using the window sign, a piece of cardboard, and a wire hanger — just make sure you only display your sign on your property.
    • Distribute window signs to local businesses for their windows.
    • Hand out signs for your friends and family use to build awareness in their communities.

    Not a window sign person? No worries. Voices for Public Transit’s Election Toolkit 2016 also includes a flyer that you can share with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others, as well as social media shareable graphics that you can post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

    Please use one or all of these materials to encourage others to support public transportation when they vote on November 8.

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