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

  • Make Your 2020 Public Transit Advocacy Resolutions



    Make Your 2020 Public Transit Advocacy Resolutions

    Resolve to Participate in Your Primaries or Caucuses

    The new decade is here! Our nation and communities face many challenges—and public transportation must be part of the solution.

    Expanding public transit can help grow our economy, create jobs, fight air pollution, and strengthen our communities. But to win increased funding for public transportation, we must raise our voices, increase our advocacy clout, and make our wishes and aspirations clear.

    To kick off 2020, we’re encouraging public transit supporters everywhere to make key advocacy resolutions. Here is the first Resolution:

    Commit to supporting public transit in your primaries or caucuses—in every way possible

    The start of the 2020 caucuses and primaries is just weeks away, beginning in Iowa on February 3 and New Hampshire on February 11. Wherever you live, register to vote if you haven’t already and then participate! Voting is the fundamental way to engage in the political process and effect policy change.

    Here’s how you can make a difference:

    First: Learn about candidates—for offices at all levels of governments—and where they stand on public transportation. Visit candidate websites, read news coverage, and even email campaigns to ask.

    Last year, we conducted a flash poll of Voices for Public Transit members, and 68% said that increasing funding for public transit is “as important” as most other issues or “the top of my list” in the upcoming elections. You can support your priorities by learning candidates’ positions and voting accordingly.

    But wait, there’s more: During the primary season, candidates and their campaigns are listening closely to voters. If candidates hear enough passionate voices advocating for public transportation, it may impact their positions on the campaign trail and if they win office. There are many actions you can take during primary season to help make public transit an election priority, including:

    • Attend a campaign event and ask a question about public transportation—Your community may host a candidate forum, or you may have the opportunity to attend a “house party” for a candidate. Your candidates may even host online events like a Twitter town hall or a Facebook Live, where you can ask questions online in real time.These types of events are a great way to connect with candidates, share your views, gather insights about your candidates’ positions—and elevate public transportation as an issue among your neighbors and friends.

    • Write a letter to the editor—Local newspapers will be covering local races, and editors want to hear from readers. Write a letter to the editor highlighting a local public transportation issue and urging candidates to support increased funding for public transit. Look at your paper’s website for guidance on how to submit a letter.

    • Share your views and ask questions on social media—Leading up to primaries and caucuses, use social media to highlight public transportation as your key issue. You can even tag a candidate, voice your support, or ask a question.


    No matter how and where you engage, keep to the high road by being polite and respectful—and remember, public transportation shouldn’t be a partisan issue: it’s something Republicans, Democrats, and Independents can agree on because it benefits all of us. Show your passion for public transportation but leave the partisan shouting to others.

    We’ll be back soon with the next Resolution. Stay tuned—and in the meantime, get out and get active in support of public transportation.

  • 5 Ways to Celebrate Public Transit


     

    This holiday season, we encourage you to make public transportation part of your celebration!

    All year long, public transit helps millions of Americans get where they want to go. To work and school. To gatherings of family and friends. To doctor’s appointments, shopping, sports events, and more.

    Public transit helps our communities and nation as well. It supports job creation, economic growth, environmental protection, and so much more. So, let’s make transit part of our celebration. Here are five ideas to get started:

    1. Celebrate Safety—Let others know that traveling by public transportation is 10x safer per mile than traveling by automobile. Stay safe yourself by riding transit to holiday parties.

    2. Gift Fare Cards—Prepaid fare cards—available on many transit systems around the country—make it easy to ride. Celebrate transit by including fare cards as stocking stuffers or donating fare cards to local charitable organizations.

    3. Reach Out with Transit—Public transit makes our communities stronger by bringing people and communities together. This holiday season, invite a friend or family member who lives alone to take transit with you to a musical performance, holiday gathering, or other event.

    4. Save Energy—In the winter months, you may be using more energy to heat your home. But you can save energy and money—and help the environment—by riding transit. It’s another good reason to celebrate public transportation.

    5. Shop Locally via Transit—Public transit gives a boost to local businesses by creating connections with customers and employees. Celebrate transit’s economic impact in your community by riding to a local shopping district to hunt for perfect gifts for your family and friends.

    All month long, we’ll be highlighting ways to celebrate public transit on social media. If you’re not part of the conversation already, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

    Share Your Ideas for Celebrating Transit

    How are you celebrating transit? Let our community know what you’re doing to make public transportation part of your holiday celebration by posting on the Voices for Public Transit website or Facebook page. You can also tag us on Twitter and hit the hashtag #Voices4Transit.

  • A Thanksgiving “Thank You” for Public Transit



    On Thanksgiving, Americans around the country give thanks—for their health and happiness, for their families and loved ones, for their communities and nation. Today, Voices for Public Transit wants to offer two very big Thank You’s.

    We want to first thank every member of our nationwide community of public transit advocates. Your committed voices are helping to protect and strengthen American public transportation—for today and the future.

    And we want to give a giant shout-out of thanks to the people who plan, build, operate, and maintain our public transportation systems. We talk a lot about the infrastructure of public transit, but without the people none of us would get very far.




    Share Your Thanks

    Thousands of transit employees are working this holiday season so we can travel safely and connect with family and friends. Whenever you have a chance, please say “Thank You” to the people who get us where we need to go all year round.

    You can also voice your thanks by sharing our “Thank You” GIF (pictured above) on Twitter and Facebook.

     Have a safe and joyful Thanksgiving!

     

  • Flash Poll Results: We’re Committed to Solving Problems with Transit



    Last month for Halloween, we polled Voices for Public Transit advocates to ask, “What’s the scariest problem transit can help address in your area?” We also asked you to rank the importance of increased funding for public transportation, relative to other issues. Here are the results…





    We’re Committed to Expanding the Benefits of Public Transportation


    When it comes to mobility, there’s no question Americans face some big challenges—traffic congestion, costs of car ownership, access, and safety, among others. But we also have a lot to be thankful for. Public transit helps millions of Americans get where they need to go every day, even if they don’t ride public transit personally.

    Our poll also shows an overwhelming commitment to winning increased funding for public transportation. Next year, Voices for Public Transit will call on this commitment to win new transit funding when the current long-term transportation bill—the FAST Act—expires. We’ll also be watching and mobilizing on transit-related ballot initiatives around the country.

    By this time next year, we hope to be thankful for legislation that marks a new era for American public transit.

    Tell Us Why You’re Thankful for Public Transportation

    In the spirit of the holiday season, we want to hear why you’re thankful for public transportation. How do public transportation and transit employees make a difference in your life? Share your answers on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

  • THANK YOU! Advocacy Helps Protect Transit Funding



    We have great news! On October 31, the U.S. Senate passed the Jones-McSally Amendment to prevent a $1.2 billion cut to fiscal year 2020 funding for public transportation.

    Thanks to your efforts to contact your Senators, this legislation passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 82-11.

    Advocacy Helps Win the Day

    If the Senate had rejected the Jones-McSally Amendment, every transit system throughout the nation would have faced a 12 percent across-the-board cut. This cut would have hurt millions of Americans by reducing travel options that connect people to work, school, medical care, and other services affordably and reliably.

    Voices for Public Transit advocates from around the country sprang into action when the threat of funding cuts arose. A supermajority of Senators across the political spectrum listened and responded by voting to support transit funding.

    We want to shout out a big “THANK YOU!” to every Voices for Public Transit advocate who reached out to their Senators on this critical issue.

    Looking Ahead

    The FAST Act expires next year. We need to start urging Congress now to make sure we don’t slide back into old, bad habits of kicking the can down the road a few months at a time. We should never again have to face years of short-term funding. That approach limits our communities’ and regions’ ability to keep our existing transportation infrastructure working efficiently, let alone plan, build, and expand into more flexible, modern transit networks that can better meet today’s transportation needs.

    To help achieve a new long-term transportation bill in 2020, advocacy will be as important as ever—it may even be more important than it was in 2015, given our current political gridlock.

    Next year, we’ll be calling on the Voices for Public Transit community to tell Congress more investment in public transit is what we need to get America where we want to go.
  • The Community Spirit of Public Transit



    Throughout October, we’ve been imagining how scary our world would be without public transit. We’ve imagined a future with more polluted air and more clogged roads.

    Today, we envision something even more frightening—the decay of community spirit itself.

    Riding Together

    When we stand up to support investment in public transportation, we have facts and figures on our side. We know that $1 invested in transit pays off with $4 in economic returns. We know that transit saves our nation 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline per year. We know traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.

    But the value of transit goes even further. When we ride together, we build community.

    Just about every regular transit rider has seen acts of kindness on buses and rail. The young skateboarder who gives up his seat for an older woman and her shopping cart. The businessman who helps a mother pick up her baby’s dropped bottle. The multi-modal cyclist who helps a disabled vet carry his walker onto the bus.

    Moments like these happen every day on transit. And they remind us that we’re all in this life—and this nation—together, even if we never know each other’s names. There are already so many things that tear us apart. It would be chilling to see our community spirit evaporate even further without public transportation to help bring us into contact with people we might not otherwise get the chance to encounter.

    Caring for the Community

    Even if we don’t ride personally, transit is also one of the ways we take care of each other.

    Transit provides mobility to people who otherwise might not be able to get around. Millions of young people, older Americans, people with disabilities, and those who don’t have access to a car find a lifeline in public transportation.

    Public transportation supports public health and greater quality of life. Work and school are within reach for many because of public transportation. And access to transportation—including public transit—is a leading factor in helping Americans access opportunity and improve their standard of living, reducing the strain on public safety net programs.

    Congress has the power to support communities in every state by increasing its support of public transportation. In this downright frightening era of growing division and income inequality in America, now is the time for Congress to renew its commitment to public transportation for communities of all sizes.

    Do You Have an Uplifting Transit Story?

    This month, we’ve already asked you for scary stories about what a world without transit could mean. Now we want to hear your best, most uplifting stories about how transit helps people in your community. Share your experience on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

  • Public Transit Fights the Specter of Traffic



    Traffic congestion can be downright terrifying—not just around Halloween, but all year long. And if we lived in a world without public transportation, the scourge of traffic would be even worse.


    Traffic’s Economic Toll

    Even if you don’t ride transit, you benefit because it helps control traffic by lowering the number of cars on the road. Even so, traffic congestion is a huge drain on our nation’s economy.

    According to one study, congestion cost the U.S. economy $305 billion in 2017. This figure includes lost worker productivity, wasted fuel, and the increased cost for moving goods through congested areas.

    It’s safe to say, in a world without public transportation, the economic impact of traffic would be even more severe.

    Environmental Consequences

    Here’s another scary fact about traffic congestion: It increases emissions and lowers air quality. In many areas, vehicle emissions are the primary source of air pollution—and more cars stuck in traffic for longer periods of time makes air pollution worse .

    A study from the Harvard School of Public Health even links air pollution from traffic congestion to premature death. 

    Public transit helps fight traffic and the pollution it causes. But in a world without transit, we would have dirtier, more unhealthy air—and more emissions contributing to climate change.

    The Horror of Being Stuck in Traffic

    It’s fair to say that many people bear traffic jams with good humor. Some commuters enjoy passing the time by listening to podcasts, audio books, or music.

    But for many Americans, traffic adds stress. Long commutes—made longer by traffic—are more stressful, according to one study. Researchers also found that driving is more stressful than other forms of transportation. 

    In a world without transit, millions more Americans would likely be sitting alone in private cars, isolated and stuck in traffic. This isolation and stress undermine public health. On the other hand, transit makes for healthier communities by offering a less stressful form of transportation and by bringing people together.

    Congress has the power to help fight traffic congestion and its terrible impacts by investing in public transportation. Will lawmakers help repel the traffic monster that wreaks havoc on American transportation?

    Do You Have a Traffic Horror Story?

    What’s the worst traffic jam you were ever stuck in? How would public transit have helped? Share your story on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.
  • Innovation, Technology, and Mobility



    Innovation and technology are transforming transportation just like every other part of our lives. Here are just a few examples of how technology is improving both individual rider experiences and public transportation’s overall impact.


    For Riders: Mobility in Your Hand


    Multi-modal Transportation Flexibility

    Information technologies now connect people with multiple modes of transportation through their smartphones and tablets. Millions of Americans combine multiple modes of transportation in a single trip, like using rideshare to go the last mile home from the light rail station, biking in to work and then taking the bus home in the evening, or simply walking the half mile to the commuter rail terminal to get in some steps before work.

    Public transit provides the foundation for this type of flexible mobility, giving Americans an unprecedented kind of transportation freedom, even when they’re navigating a city for the first time.

    Many public transportation systems are also working with tech-driven services to improve access to transportation for people in their areas. For example, transit systems in Boston, Florida’s Pinellas County (St. Petersburg and the surrounding area), and Salt Lake City are partnering with ride-hailing services to expand their reach. Many transit systems also now offer apps to making paying fares easier.

    Real-Time Data and Information-Sharing

    People on the go are also benefiting from real-time transportation data. People at home or work can see when the next bus or streetcar is arriving—and cut their wait times, as well as make their trips more efficient.

    Dozens of transit systems around the country make their transportation data freely available to anyone, so map apps can provide public transit as an option when showing available routes.


    For Everyone: Improved Transportation Experience and Impact


    Next-Generation Bus Technologies

    Buses are the primary public transportation in most American cities and towns. Many transit systems are retiring older buses and upgrading fleets with advanced vehicles, including:

    • Electric Buses—Electric buses emit no exhaust, and many transit systems also use hybrid-electric buses, which are cleaner and more fuel-efficient. Electric buses are also quieter than traditional diesel buses. Riders and non-riders alike benefit. Public transportation is already more efficient than single-passenger cars—and electric buses make transit even cleaner.
    • Alternative Fuel Buses—Though not as low-emission as electric buses, alternative fuel buses running on biodiesel or natural gas also help clear the air.
    • Traffic Signal PriorityThis technology allows buses to communicate with traffic signals to extend the length of a green light or shorten a red light to enable buses to pass more rapidly through intersections. This technology has long been available, but it is being added to buses in more locations to speed operations.


    Train Communications Systems

    Many transit systems are implementing automated train controls to replace or augment manual controls. The New York subway (MTA) recently added new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) systems to Lines 7 and L, which now greatly outperform other lines. Baltimore is adding a CBTC system, due in 2021, and the Boston area’s MBTA will complete replacement of its older train control systems on its Orange and Red Lines in 2022.

    More Successful City Planning

    Transit agencies are also leveraging sophisticated data collection and analytic tools to optimize their systems to better meet residents’ needs. In Portland, Oregon, a group of government agencies is piloting the use of a sophisticated software system to gain a clearer picture of how people use different transportation options to move through the city. This will help the region develop a more effective transportation strategy for the years ahead.


    Getting Where We Want to Go


    The pace of innovation continues to accelerate, and we can expect continuing changes to our transportation networks. As just one example, autonomous vehicles could enable a whole range of new public transportation services, such as self-driven mini-buses for on-demand paratransit.

    Federal government investment will be critical to making transit improvements accessible to more people. The Internet itself arose from the federal government’s investment in communications and computing technology. The next transportation bill reauthorization is coming in 2020, and infrastructure legislation is among the key issues in the next federal election. Our community will be educating Congress about the need for funding to support transportation innovation that benefits our entire nation.
  • Clearing the Air with Public Transit



    It’s October—Halloween season!—so here’s a scary vision: America with no public transportation.

    It would be a lot harder—if not impossible—for millions of people to get around. Harder to get to work. Harder to get to school. Harder to get to the doctor. Harder to meet up with friends and family.

    Follow our blog and social media this month—and share with your friends and neighbors—as we explore just how scary things would be if our nation chose not to invest in public transit.

    Something in the Air

    Don’t like how polluted our air has become? It would be much worse without public transit. Growing banks of smog might loom over our cities like something out of a horror movie.

    Think we’re exaggerating? Consider this: Today, public transportation reduces the nation’s carbon footprint by 37 million metric tons annually. Without transit, we’d add the fumes of 4.2 billion gallons of gas to our air every year. That’s not just unsightly—it’s unhealthy.

    Transit is also healthier because it’s safer. Per mile, you’re 10 times more likely to be injured traveling by automobile than by public transportation.

    Getting Cleaner All the Time

    Public transit doesn’t just make our air cleaner by taking cars off the road. It’s also leading the way in the adoption of electric vehicles. Transit systems across the country are investing in zero-emission battery and fuel cell technology.

    Cases in point: The California State Transportation Agency is funding 285 zero-emission buses that will operate from San Diego all the way to Redding (about 120 miles south of the Oregon border). Washington, DC, is adding battery-powered buses to its line-up. And New York intends to transition its entire bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles in the coming years.

    Electric buses can also be found climbing the mountains around Salt Lake City, Utah; ferrying students on cold days in Worcester, Massachusetts; and bringing spectators out to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

    Electric buses are making for healthier communities—and a healthier planet.

    Do You See Public Transit Making Your Local Community Cleaner and Healthier?

    Tell us—or show us—public transit helping clear the air in your area on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.
  • Late-Shift Workers Depend on Public Transit



    Every night, millions of Americans work the late shift.

    Nurses, doctors, and staff are on hand at hospitals through all hours. Cooks and waiters serve up warm meals at 24-hour restaurants. Road workers lay new pavement when the streets are quiet. 911 call center staff take emergency calls and mobilize responders. Hotel concierges greet guests arriving late after delayed flights. Maintenance staff make sure office buildings are ready for the next day.

    Countless others are on the job when most Americans are in bed. Late-Shift workers keep our local economies running in ways most of us don’t even think about until we need them.

    Every one of these late-night employees needs to get to work—and every operation they support needs to be sure they can get to work reliably. Job choices are much more limited for people who don’t have cars and can’t use public transit. And employers are more likely to deal with unexpected absences and higher turnover.

    It’s a problem Congress can do something about.

    Expanding Public Transit Means Expanding Job Opportunities—and Local Economies

    Industries with large shares of late-shift and weekend workers are expecting high job growth. That includes health care, construction, food service, education, and finance, just to name a few. Public transit can help make those jobs accessible to more people.

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently released a new study on this issue, “Supporting Late-Shift Workers: Their Transportation Needs and the Economy.” The study offers several solutions, but one point stands out: We need to increase public investment in local transit systems. Improved funding will help local systems expand service and provide more options for people who need access to public transit during late-night and weekend hours.

    Only Congress can provide increased federal funding.

    Do You Work a Late Shift or Know Someone Who Does?

    Please share how access to reliable transportation makes a difference for you on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

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