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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.

The Latest

  • Public Transportation Brought to You by American Manufacturers

    Public transportation’s economic reach is much greater than simply getting people from Point A to Point B and back again every day. It’s much greater even than the 400,000+ women and men who are directly employed by public transit systems around the country.

    Public transportation supports a diverse supply chain that includes more than 200 manufacturers in more than 30 states. These companies include builders of rail cars and buses, as well as manufacturers of vehicle equipment and parts, such as electric systems, chassis, interiors, communications systems, and more.

    While many public transit manufacturers and suppliers are located in large metropolitan regions, scores of companies are found in smaller cities and states with fewer urban populations.

    Manufacturer Snapshot — ElDorado

    One example of a small-town public transportation supplier is ElDorado, a manufacturer of light- and medium-duty buses. Located in Salina, Kansas, ElDorado is the largest manufacturer of 20- to 26-foot transit buses, which are used by smaller public transit systems and for paratransit.

    ElDorado has been operating for nearly 40 years and, with the support of contracts from public transit systems around the country, the company was able to expand into a state-of-the-art plant in 2001.

    Salina, the seat of Saline County, is a city of about 48,000, located about 81 miles north of Wichita, the closest metropolitan area. ElDorado is a major employer in Salina, supporting approximately 300 jobs.

    Beyond Buses and Railcars

    Public transit requires more than vehicles: stations, shelters, benches, fare and ticketing equipment, signage, and more, all have to be manufactured to support public transit operations.

    Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment for public transit can be found in many states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and Georgia. At least two shelter manufacturers — Austin Mohawk in Utica, New York, and Handi-Hut in Clifton, New Jersey — are veteran owned or founded.

    U.S. manufacturing has strengthened in recent years, and public transit organizations have a wide choice of equipment made by American manufacturers. In addition, the federal “Buy America” policy encourages public transit systems to contract with American manufacturers. Federal government investments in America’s public transportation infrastructure are a great way to support American workers and manufacturers and stimulate local private-sector economic growth.

  • Public Transit Supporters Share Views About Proposed Budget Cuts

    Voices for Public Transit recently surveyed our members to ask, “What would your world look like without public transit?” You can read what members like you told us in our most recent blog post, “We Asked; You Answered: What Public Transit Cuts Could Mean.

    We also asked people to share their individual stories about how the President’s proposed cuts to public transportation would affect them personally. Here is what your fellow public transit advocates shared with us.

    Job Losses and Increased Poverty
    A Philadelphia transit supporter wrote, “A vast number of citizens in my area travel into and out of the city for their jobs, using public transport — buses and regional trains. Remove those options and you will vastly shrink the pool of workers, which will cripple businesses and needlessly throw families into poverty. There is not a single benefit to any of it, for corporations or individuals. Only in ignorance could someone make a case for it.”

    Increased Costs and Traffic Congestion
    Another transit supporter wrote, “For me, it means increased costs because I will have to buy a vehicle. I’ve chosen to not own a car, because I’m a strong supporter of public transportation and I prefer living in an area with good public transportation access. There is good and extensive public transportation in my region, but congestion is a huge problem, so reduction or total elimination of transit will only worsen congestion and affect the economy of the entire region.”

    Lost Independence
    One Ohio advocate wrote, “[Cutting public transit] would take my independence away. I do not like to ask anybody to take me anywhere unless I absolutely have to. I would not be able to go to the grocery store or other shopping on a limited income.”

    Undermining the Basic Right to Be Mobile
    Finally, a public transportation advocate from the Washington, D.C., area wrote, “Public transportation in DC is already stretched close to the breaking point. Any further funding cuts could inflict irreparable damage to the system and riders who depend on it for their economic and social empowerment. Government needs to increase, not decrease or eliminate, appropriations to public transportation. Convenient, reliable, affordable public transportation serves the well-being of communities and is a basic right of all citizens.”

    The core message we’re hearing from public transit supporters is that President Trump’s proposed cuts will drastically impact the quality of life in our communities, big and small, across the nation.

    For decades, members of Congress from both parties have recognized the value of public transportation to their constituents — and as a result, there has been strong bipartisan support for funding public transportation.

    President Trump’s proposal to gut public transportation funding goes directly against the wishes and wellbeing of the American people. What remains to be seen is whether Congress chooses to follow the President’s recommendations or maintains its commitment to improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure by investing in improved and expanded public transportation for communities of all sizes.

  • Supply Chain: The “Service” in Public Transit Service

    While many public transit systems are public (government) agencies, they often rely on a wide range of private-sector contractors to meet their staffing or service needs. Even vehicle operations — such as driving buses or conducting trains — may be provided by licensed professional contractors rather than agency employees.

    This approach to supporting the services required for public transit operations gives public transit systems greater flexibility, helps them manage costs more effectively, and keeps overall service more affordable and efficient.

    What Types of Services are Contracted?

    According to a study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the majority of American public transit systems contract some or all of their operations and services. Private-sector contractors include a wide array of professionals:

    • Vehicle, system, and facility maintenance
    • Construction
    • Security
    • Technology services
    • Advertising and public relations
    • Vehicle operations

    Contracting brings competitive bidding to public transit operations, which can enable systems to save costs and improve services while supporting millions of private-sector jobs.

    Public-Private Partnerships

    In some regions, public transit agencies enter into long-term, more-comprehensive contracting arrangements known as public-private partnerships, or P3s. Private contractors provide the financing for a public transit project or service, like a new rail line or an extension of bus service, and operate the service in return for ongoing payments from the public transit agency.

    Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), for example, has a P3 arrangement with a private contractor to run rail service on the city’s east side. This type of contracting can make expanding public transportation more feasible than the public transit agency or local taxpayers having to shoulder the upfront costs alone. While P3s are not appropriate for every public transportation system, they are one solution for raising funds and tapping new ideas to improve public transit.

  • We Asked; You Answered: What Public Transit Cuts Could Mean

    Federal funding plays an important role in bringing public transit to local communities, as well as in maintaining and improving existing public transportation systems. We asked Voices for Public Transit members to tell us how their lives and communities might be affected if that funding were curtailed significantly or eliminated altogether. How would people’s lives change?

    We asked, and you answered. Here are the main takeaways:

    • Traffic Congestion — The number one concern, according to the Voices for Public Transit community, would be increased 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 — or $960 per average motorist. In many communities, traffic congestion is only getting worse and will worsen dramatically if Congress curtails or eliminates federal public transit funding.

    • Job Losses and Increased Poverty — Second only to traffic congestion, job losses and increased poverty were seen as the second-worst community consequence. Public transportation plays a vital role in enabling many Americans who cannot afford to own a car to participate in the economy through full-time work, access to educational opportunities, and more. In addition, according to a Harvard University study, access to public transit is the number one factor for lifting people out of poverty.

    • Increased Costs — To date, more than 74 percent of survey respondents have said the cost of transportation would increase for their household in a world without public transportation. This isn’t surprising given that the average household that gives up a car and uses public transportation instead can save more than $9,700 annually.

    When President Trump in March announced his initial plans to cut public transit funding, it sent a shockwave through our community. On May 22, the President released his full budget proposal, and the outcome for public transit remains disappointing. His proposed public transit cuts reaffirmed possible dire consequences for our public transportation infrastructure and economy. We will be watching closely to see whether Congress decides to act on those recommendations or take a different course.

  • Public Transportation Drives Innovation

    Public transportation has been part of America’s history almost since the nation’s founding (think stagecoaches!). Innovation and technology have driven public transportation’s growth, expansion, and solidified its place as an economic driver. As just one example, public transit in the form of ferries and railroads spurred advances in steam technology.

    Today, a range of innovative technologies and services are part of the public transportation sector’s vibrant economic supply chain, including:

    • Clean Technology — Public transit investment has supported advances in hybrid and electric vehicles, electric storage, biofuels, and more. These investments help reduce pollution and support jobs in renewable energy technology.

    • Safety Technologies — Safety technologies adopted by public transit may be seen as the precursor of autonomous vehicles. Collision avoidance systems, blind spot detection, and driver fatigue alerts have all emerged because of public transit investments.

    • Information Technology — Advances in IT and communications have improved public transit payment systems, scheduling, and vehicle control. You’ll find public transportation supply chain companies operating in tech centers like Silicon Valley, Austin, and Boston.

    • Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) — The public transportation ecosystem now includes TNCs, also known as rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft. Several public transit systems are partnering with TNCs to help riders travel the last or first mile of their trips.

    Case Study: Cummins, Advancing Emission Reductions

    With the support of the federal government, several public transit systems around the country have been investing in low- and no-emission vehicles. These investments pay off in the long term in the form of cleaner air and lower operating costs.

    Engine manufacturing giant Cummins has developed hybrid and natural gas engines that produce fewer greenhouse gases than previous generations of engines. These cleaner engines are now found in public transportation buses around the country. In addition, truck fleets are also adding cleaner vehicles. Cummins has a roadmap for developing engines that run on renewable biofuels, and it is projecting a future where power can be generated by systems that combine natural gas with wind or solar power.

    Most of Cummins U.S. administrative and manufacturing operations are not located in large urban areas. The company’s headquarters are found in Columbus, Indiana, a city of about 45,000 people located some 40 miles south of Indianapolis. Cummins is the area’s largest employer.

    Public transportation around the country helps support Columbus jobs at Cummins. It’s a great example of how America’s public transportation sector supports jobs and economic opportunity in communities of all sizes.

  • Public Transit Funding Cuts by the Numbers

    Don’t let the short-term budget bill signed on May 5 lull you into thinking the threat of public transit funding cuts is behind us. The president has yet to release his full budget proposal for the coming fiscal year — but here are just a few of the consequences we anticipate based on the “skinny budget” the administration previewed in February:

    The number of jobs at risk thanks to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Those jobs include 502,000 construction jobs plus another 300,000 jobs associated with increased economic productivity driven by public transit investment.

    The potential loss in economic output resulting from these proposed public transit cuts. Public transit investment pays off in the form of economic growth — growth that will be curtailed by a severe reduction in federal funding.

    Proposed cuts to the “New Starts” program would immediately jeopardize 53 public transit projects that are already underway in 23 states. Bus and rail projects in large and smaller cities could be scaled back or potentially eliminated because of proposed budget cuts.

    Every single state has benefited from the competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grant program, which was launched in 2009. President Trump’s proposed budget would completely eliminate this popular and successful program.

    President Trump has said he plans to invest $1 trillion in American infrastructure over 10 years, including public transportation. It makes no sense to commit to infrastructure improvements only to gut public transportation funding. The American people deserve better.

    We’ll know more soon. We anticipate President Trump could release his full budget proposal as early as next week — and it could be the first step toward eliminating federal support for public transportation altogether.

    Each of these big numbers tells a different story, but together they paint a grim picture of lost jobs, economic damage, and broken promises. Help us make that story even more personal — and more compelling. Take our “World Without Public Transit” survey today.

    This week is National Infrastructure Week. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for more details!

  • Safer Communities Brought to You By Public Transit

    U.S. traffic fatalities have risen over the last two years. Expanding public transportation is a great solution to address this alarming trend.

    Public Transportation Means Safer Transportation for Everyone

    According to the 2016 report “The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation,” your chances of being in an accident are 90 percent greater traveling by car than riding public transportation.

    Public transportation safety benefits extend beyond riders, however. In communities with strong public transit systems, transportation is safer for everyone — even those who don’t use public transportation. Transit riders and non-riders alike see their crash risk cut in half in regions with high-frequency public transportation.

    Vulnerable and high-risk drivers, such as teens and older Americans, particularly benefit from the increased safety provided by public transportation. In areas with robust public transportation options, higher-risk drivers are more likely to leave cars parked and use transit services, making the roads safer for everyone. Transit-oriented cities have about half the traffic fatality rate compared to automobile-centric cities.

    Investing in Safety Technologies

    Public transportation moves the needle forward on transportation safety technologies. The cars of tomorrow — including autonomous or self-driving cars — will likely use technologies being deployed by public transportation today. These safety innovations include:

    • Collision avoidance systems
    • Pedestrian detection and avoidance
    • Blind spot detection
    • Driver fatigue and inattention alerts

    Expanded public transportation means safer travel for everyone — just one more benefit of investing in public transportation infrastructure for communities of all sizes.

  • The Economic Consequences of Proposed Transit Cuts

    What would America look like without public transportation?

    It is a scary question, but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. President Trump’s budget preview includes deep cuts to public transportation that would start by jeopardizing $38 billion in transit projects already in various stages of development. And that could be just the tip of the iceberg. We may be seeing the first step toward eliminating federal funding for public transportation altogether.

    Public transportation projects of all sizes, all around the country, rely on a combination of federal, state, and local funding. The Trump budget puts at risk dozens of public transit projects that had already received commitments from the federal government. These projects include expansions of public transit in large, congested urban areas such as Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Dallas, but also in smaller cities such as Durham (NC), Baton Rouge (LA), and Reno (NV).

    Transportation Cuts Would Cost Jobs and Hurt Communities

    For millions of Americans, these funding cuts would translate into lost jobs. People would have fewer options for employment and education. Those who cannot drive would have more difficulty accessing healthcare and community services.

    Negative impacts at the personal level also mean negative impacts at the community level—particularly when it comes to economic development and job creation. Numerous studies have shown that public transit funding pays off by creating private-sector jobs, attracting investments, and spurring business growth. These would all be at risk if Congress enacts President Trump’s proposal.

    What Do the President’s Proposed Cuts Mean in Real Numbers?

    Among other things, the President’s recommended budget would drastically reduce funding for the innovative, competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grant program. Since 2009, this program has cost-effectively provided more than $5 billion to more than 420 transportation programs in all 50 states.

    Cuts to the federal “New Starts” program could put at risk more than 800,000 jobs, including 502,000 construction and related jobs; and an additional 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity.

    How Would a World Without Public Transit Affect You?

    We are at a crossroads for public transit. What would happen if our nation ended federal support for public transportation altogether? What would your life be like if public transit in your community couldn’t improve and expand—and what would be the consequences for your community as a whole?

    We want to hear from you! Please take our brief 7-question survey to help us highlight what a world without public transit would look like.

  • Starting off with a BANG

    We’re off to a strong start in fighting to protect public transit from President Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Over April recess, Voices for Public Transit advocates told Congress in no uncertain terms that their constituents believe public transit needs to remain a priority for the federal government.

    Here’s what you accomplished:

    • More than 18,000 emails sent to Congress
    • More than 990 letters to the editor submitted
    • More than 14,254 engagements on Facebook and Twitter
    • More than 190 advocates clicked to download our “Protect Public Transportation Funding” toolkits
    • More than 540 new members joined our community

    Together, we’ve delivered our message through multiple channels and will continue to tell our members of Congress:

    The economic consequences of public transit budget cuts would be devastating to American communities. Congress should honor its longstanding commitment to American public transportation by rejecting President Trump’s proposed cuts to public transit funding.

    If you haven’t had a chance to add your voice to this effort, please take action now.

    President Trump is expected to release his full budget proposal soon — and the budget process will continue for several months.

  • Transit Quiz: Answers Revealed!

    Get stumped on any of these questions? Check out the answers below to find out more information!

    Thanks for taking time to test your public transportation knowledge!

    Question 1

    San Francisco’s famous, manually operated cable car system is the last of its kind in the world. Which U.S. city opened a new, automated cable car line in 2014?

    Answer: Oakland. Dozens of U.S. cities used to have cable cars, but most are long gone, replaced by buses and rail. But this technology could make a comeback. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system built a cable car line to extend its main train line to Oakland International Airport.

    Question 2

    What U.S. city had the first streetcar line?

    Answer: New York City. The first horse-drawn streetcar system (running on tracks) launched in New York in 1832. New streetcar lines are now helping to reduce traffic and revitalize cities around the United States. Horses have been replaced by electricity.

    Question 3

    Which U.S. public transportation system was the first to partner with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to help expand service?

    Answer: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, serving St. Petersburg and Clearwater and the surrounding area, was the first transit system to expand access to public transportation by partnering with Lyft and Uber, as well as a local taxi company. Now other transit systems are making use of these new technology-driven services to increase mobility options and lower costs.

    Question 4

    True or False?
    The world’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system launched in Cleveland in 2008.

    Answer: False. The Cleveland HealthLine BRT system was the first U.S. BRT project to be supported with federal funding. The world’s first BRT system, which began operations in 1974, is located in Curitiba, Brazil.

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