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

  • Our Nation Needs to Get on Board

    Our Nation Needs to Get on Board


    We’re coming to the climax of the public transit story: When you get right down to it, building out public transportation is a matter of national importance.

    Public transit matters to individuals and communities. It must also matter to the nation if we are to achieve the kind of mobility people want and need in the 21st century.

    A strong multi-modal transportation system, with public transportation as the backbone, allows people to thrive and commerce traffic, and the business of our nation to flow smoothly. That’s why today, April 25th, we are asking our lawmakers to ensure that America is “On Board.” For public transportation

    1+2+3 = Better Transit—and Better Mobility—for Everyone

    When you speak directly to Congress, they listen. Take just a few minutes today to urge Congress to “Get On Board!”

    Federal investment in public transportation pays off societally and economically:

    • Creating Jobs and Powering the Economy—Investing in public transportation creates jobs and serves as an economic catalyst. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports or creates more than 50,000 jobs. Transit projects also attract business investment and community development.
    • Fighting Poverty—Access to transportation is the single-most significant factor in enabling people to break the cycle of poverty. Public transportation helps more people access jobs and education, and gives them greater self-reliance.
    • Promoting Public Health—Every year, transportation barriers prevent millions of people from accessing medical care. A greater investment in public transit can help close the transportation gap that limits access to healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports investment in public transportation because of its contribution to public health.
    • Congestion--We also need public transportation to reduce traffic congestion. It’s no fun to be stuck in traffic, and it costs our nation more than $300 billion annually. A renewed national commitment to public transportation will help fight this rising cost.
    • Cleaner Air—In the context of the national conversation around reducing carbon emissions, taking more cars off the road should be a key part of the solution, and that’s something public transit does better than anything else.

    Why Do We Need Congress to GET ON BOARD?

    Looking ahead, Congress has two major opportunities to get on board with public transit:

    • Infrastructure Legislation—Republicans and Democrats alike have said they want to tackle our nation’s infrastructure challenges. Increased investment for public transportation should be part of any infrastructure legislation.
    • Transportation Bill Reauthorization—Our current transportation bill, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, expires in 2020. As part of a new long-term transportation bill—or separately—Congress needs to shore up the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which helps fund public transit.

    We’re already sharing the stories of how public transportation benefits individuals and entire communities. Stay tuned for actions you can take to get our nation “On Board” not just today, but for every day to come!

  • Is Your Community on Board?

    Is Your Community on Board?


    Communities of all sizes and transit systems around the nation will celebrate public transportation’s role in American mobility during the inaugural National “Get on Board” Day.

    This one-day nationwide event will bring attention to the societal and economic value of public transportation. This event will raise public transit’s profile, emphasize how public transit is the foundation of a forward-looking mobility strategy, and make the case for increased investment in public transportation to elected officials.

    The Next Part of the Story: #2—“Get on Board” for Stronger Communities

    In our previous blog post, encouraged Voices for Public Transit advocates to share why they are personally “On Board” with public transportation, but that’s just the beginning of the story we need Congress to hear.

    We all know the benefits of public transportation extend far beyond the individual. Show us how public transportation makes your community stronger—or how it could if more public transit were available. Looking for inspiration? Here are just a few examples of why communities, not just individuals, should “Get on Board” with public transit:

    • Jobs!—Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates or supports approximately 50,000 jobs.
    • Economic and Community Development—Public transportation attracts business investment, builds tax revenue, and fosters affordable housing. Did you know that 70 percent of public funding for public transportation reaches the private sector? That figure alone should convince communities off all sizes to “Get On Board” when it comes to public transportation.
    • Public Health—Public transportation supports healthy communities. We’re not just talking about the public transit riders that get exercise by walking to their stop or station. Public transportation provides a critical link to hospitals and medical centers so people can access healthcare—especially preventative care. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends expanding public transportation because of its contribution to public health.
    • Quality of Life—Public transportation reduces traffic and air pollution, gives people more flexibility and access, and brings folks together so members of the community feel more connected.

    What Can You Do to Get Your Community On Board with Public Transit?

    Start by showing us what public transit does or could mean for your community: post photos or short videos of public transportation in action in your community on our Facebook page or Twitter using the hashtag #GetOnBoard.

    Tell us more about the examples that come to mind for you:

    • Does your bus or rail system connect students to a local college or university?
    • Are new housing or new businesses growing up close to public transit?
    • Has public transportation helped revitalize an older neighborhood?
    • Do you see people in your community using public transportation to shop or attend community events?

    We know many communities don’t yet have robust public transit or have outgrown the public transit systems they currently use. Those stories are just as important to tell! What public transit improvements are on your community’s wish list?

    Share more with us today!

  • Are You “On Board” for Public Transportation?

    Are You “On Board” for Public Transportation?
    Show Congress the 1-2-3 of Why Public Transit Matters


    Save the Date! April 25 is national “Get on Board” Day. So what exactly is “Get On Board Day” and what does it mean for you? Great question!

    Public transit systems and mobility champions will be uniting to raise awareness about the importance of public transportation. We’ll be highlighting the economic, social, cultural, and safety benefits of public transportation—and why we all need to “Get On Board” when it comes to investing to improve and expand public transportation in communities large and small.

    You already know public transit matters at three key levels: personally, for local communities, and for the nation as a whole. Together, those stories—the personal, community-wide, and national—make up the 1-2-3 of why public transit matters, and each plays a role as we work to show the new Congress why they need to keep public transportation at the forefront in their infrastructure and transportation discussions.

    Let’s Start at the Beginning: #1—How Do Strong Public Transportation Networks Benefit You?

    Strong mobility systems have public transportation as their backbone. Whether you ride public transportation or not, you reap the benefits every day! Here are just a few ways people have told us they personally benefit from public transit:

    • Easier Connectivity: Buses and trains help reduce traffic congestion for drivers; cabs and rideshare services make it more feasible for people to walk and bike because they will have other ways of getting to their destinations if weather or other conditions change. Flexible public transportation makes getting around easier for everyone.
    • Greater Safety: Public transit-oriented communities are five times safer than communities centered around vehicle transit. Better public transportation creates more compact development and integrated communities, which in turn reduces auto miles traveled and produces safer speeds in those areas.
    • Financial Benefits: The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation, with most of the money going toward buying and maintaining a car. Households that use transit and give up a car save nearly $10,000 annually.
    • Healthier Living—It’s easy to be more active when you use public transportation. Most riders walk to their stop or station, and many combine bicycling and transit. Traveling by public transportation is also 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car.

    We Want to Hear from YOU!

    How do YOU benefit from public transit? Tell us how YOU Get On Board with public transit, even if you don’t ride!

    Your story could be featured on our website and social media channels as part of our upcoming Get On Board Day!

    What’s to Come?

    We hope every member of Voices for Public Transit will participate. Here are some ways to get involved:

    • Find Out What’s Happening Locally—Visit the website of your local public transit system—or check social media—and find out what’s planned in your area. Transit systems around the country are hosting special events and activities. Check out what’s happening and get involved.
    • Ride Transit—The easiest way to be part of “Get on Board” Day is literally to get on board. Show your support by riding transit on Thursday, April 25.
    • Spread the Word—Let friends, family, co-workers, and others know that April 25 is national “Get on Board” Day and encourage them to participate. In addition, post on social media, using the hashtags #GetOnBoard #transit.
    • Communicate with Elected Officials—We’ll be reaching out soon, so you can communicate directly through email to your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials, letting them know you’re participating in “Get on Board” Day because you support public transportation.

    So, mark your calendar for April 25. We’ll be back to highlight ways communities and our nation as a whole benefit when we “Get On Board.”

  • FBF: Safer Communities Brought to You By Public Transit

    Safety is always timely, so we’re recirculating one of our most popular blog posts from 2017. It’s a good refresher on one of the big reasons investing in public transportation is so important.



    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.

  • A Hearty Welcome to the 116th Congress



    To new and returning members of Congress: Welcome to Washington! You have a lot of work ahead of you—and public transportation deserves your support.

    On January 3, members of the 116th Congress kicked off what could be a turbulent—but also productive—session.

    Congress is now officially divided, with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans the Senate. In addition, the session began under the specter of an ongoing government shutdown. Communities of all sizes depend on flexible mobility options including public transportation. The government shutdown can jeopardize riders and non-riders by impacting daily travel, professional and educational opportunities, and ultimately local economies.

    At first glance, the combination of divided government and partisan rancor might look like a recipe for more gridlock. But ultimately, regardless of party and political divisions, lawmakers want to serve their constituents. They want to get something done—and therefore, they must find common ground. It’s critical that Congress and the Administration work together to find a solution that will allow the government to re-open, and then focus on creating infrastructure and transportation policies that the House, Senate, and Administration can agree on.

    Fingers Crossed for Infrastructure Legislation

    Americans broadly agree that we need increased infrastructure funding—both to address deferred maintenance and to meet the needs of a growing population and economy. Unfortunately, in 2017 and 2018, infrastructure proposals failed to advance. This year—fingers crossed—could be different.

    Democratic House leaders have said that passing infrastructure legislation is a major goal. Senate Republicans have also said that infrastructure will be on the 2019 agenda. Legislators now need to move from general agreement to specific legislation. As legislation is developed, our community will be speaking up loudly in support of public transportation.

    President Trump remains a wildcard in the debate. In the past, he has voiced strong support for major infrastructure legislation. However, it remains to be seen what his approach will be in 2019—and whether he’ll be open to negotiating with Democrats.

    Building on Strong Support for Public Transportation

    Transportation is bipartisan by its very nature: Democrats and Republicans (and third-party voters) share roads, rail lines, and public transit systems. On this point, Congress has historically agreed. There have been decades of bipartisan support for transportation funding, including public transit.

    Just last year, in fact, Congress united across party lines to support increased funding for public transit in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Voices for Public Transit will be reminding lawmakers of our nation’s historic support for public transportation—and the need for Congress to again stand up for transit.

    So, let’s join together to welcome Congress—all of Congress—to Washington—and express our wishes for a successful, productive session that strengthens our nation for the future. Every American needs mobility, and Congress can help all of us by passing legislation that makes strong investments in public transportation as part of an integrated, multi-modal transportation strategy.

    Now, let’s get to work!

  • That's a Wrap on 2018!



    Thank you for the amazing work you’ve helped Voices for Public Transit accomplish in 2018! We’re taking a look back on our biggest 2018 accomplishments and forecasting ahead to what could be a monumental year for transit in 2019.

    Congress Unites to Fund Public Transportation

    Congress passed a Fiscal Year 2018 budget that included big increases for transit funding.

    Voices for Public Transit advocates from across the country made their voices heard when word got out that public transportation was facing potentially devastating public transit cuts.

    Luckily, Congress responded and, while Washington is divided on many issues, legislators across the political spectrum recognized that Americans need mobility—and public transportation must be part of the solution.

    Support for Public Transit at the Polls

    Public transit supporters didn’t just achieve a victory in the federal budget battle; we also made gains at the ballot box. In the 2018 midterm elections, pro-transit ballot measures won in several states. Voters approved public transit investments in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, and Virginia.

    Voters passed 30 out of 36 ballot measures for public transportation in the 2018 election. Those wins represent a spectrum of large cities and smaller communities, showing broad citizen support for public transportation across the nation.

    New Hope for Infrastructure Legislation in 2019

    By now, everyone knows that things in Congress will be shifting dramatically in 2019, with the Democratic Party taking control of the U.S. House. The Republican Party continues to hold the majority in the Senate.

    Congress will be divided, which could spell trouble, but infrastructure is one area where consensus may be reached even in this partisan environment, allowing both sides of the aisle to claim wins on an issue that is fundamentally important to all Americans. Democratic leaders have already said infrastructure will be a top priority and the Administration and Republican congressional leaders have both expressed interest in passing an ambitious infrastructure plan.

    We’ll call on Voices for Public Transit advocates to stand up as the infrastructure debate takes shape next year and tell Congress that public transit investment must be part of any infrastructure bill. The 2018 elections demonstrated Americans support public transportation. We’ll remind Congress throughout the year and proactively shape the debate ahead of Transportation Bill reauthorization that’s coming in 2020.

  • Public Transit Helps Veterans Make Connections



    For millions of veterans, public transportation provides essential mobility that helps them return to civilian life. We’ve heard from vets who ride public transit to connect with family and friends, access healthcare, and reach work. For vets who can’t drive—due to age or disability—public transportation is often their only mobility option.

    Veterans Share Their Stories

    Our Voices for Public Transit community is proud to include veterans who have shared their own stories about the benefits of public transportation.

    For Michelle, a veteran in Melbourne, Florida, public transit helps her travel—and helps her family as well.

    “If it weren’t for public transportation, how would I get my loved ones from their homes to their appointments?” she said. “They can’t afford cabs, and they’re too far to walk.”

    For William of Ft. Worth, Texas—a veteran with a 100 percent service-connected disability—is able to carry out his duties as a preacher because of public transportation.

    “Being unable to drive, I completely need public transportation to get to church and visit parishioners,” he told us.

    Public Transit Isn’t Just Helping Veterans Get Around—It Also Provides Job Opportunities

    America’s public transit systems have welcomed veterans into their workforce—at every career level. One of our nation’s fastest-growing transit systems—the Los Angeles Metro—is led by U.S. Army veteran Philip Washington.

    “The public transportation industry has a welcome mat out for returning veterans,” said Washington .

    VIA—San Antonio’s transit system—has filled many of its vacancies with veterans.

    “I’m proud to say that one out of every four VIA employees is a military veteran,” explained Sergio Gonzalez , VIA’s Recruitment and Outreach Administrator and a veteran himself.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides a portal to help connect veterans with jobs in transportation, including public transit. Many skills developed in the military—from technical and mechanical know-how to leadership—transfer to careers in public transportation.

    Expanding Public Transit to Support Veterans

    Many public transit systems around the country honor and serve America’s veterans and active service members by providing free or discounted rides. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides grants to help improve access to transportation options, including public transit, through the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI).

    The evolving need for transportation options requires funding. This is especially true for rural American communities—home to one-third of our nation’s veterans. A 2017 study from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found transit brings numerous benefits to rural communities and demand for rural public transportation is rising.

    The 2018 federal budget provided increased funding for addressing transportation challenges in rural America—funding that will help veterans and their communities. But we need to keep this momentum going in next year’s budget, as well as support public transit investment in any infrastructure legislation.

  • Why Fund Public Transit with Federal Dollars?



    Last year, the Administration proposed greatly reducing the federal government’s share of its investment in public transit.

    Currently, the federal government provides as much as 50 percent of funding for major public transportation projects. The Administration proposed an infrastructure plan where the federal government would pay only 13.3 - 20 percent of major infrastructure projects. That’s a 30 percent DECREASE, leaving local communities to make up the difference—a gap many communities don’t have the resources to fill by themselves.

    Since passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, the federal government has played a leading role in investing and supporting public transit. In fact, throughout our nation’s history, the federal government has supported transportation—including rail, roads, and even lighthouses—because it is so vital in keeping the economy moving.

    What interstate highways did for America in the 1950s, an integrated, multi-modal transportation network built around public transit can do for America now, as we address the needs of today’s economy, and our rapidly growing population. Robust federal funding is a good investment, even according to conservative transportation expert Jack Schenendorf, who states that public transportation, “drives economic growth” and is “essential to America’s prosperity.”

    According to Schenendorf, without federal leadership and dollars, states would “balkanize the nation’s transportation networks, cause a substantial drag on the economy, and bring about a host of other serious problems.”

    What About State and Local Funding?

    State and local funding is essential to public transit projects, and most communities fund a substantial portion of the total cost of infrastructure improvements. But municipalities—especially smaller communities—lack the resources available at the federal level. Faced with transportation investments being a necessity—not a nicety—to remain competitive, states and municipalities could find themselves taking on excessive new debt in order to fund essential public transportation. (Just look at some of the recent news out of Michigan, where employers are rallying around public transit investment after Amazon cited the lack of an efficient regional public transportation network as a key reason Detroit was not selected for Amazon’s HQ2.)

    What About the Private Sector?

    The Administration has also suggested that the private sector can make up the difference in funding transit. Some transportation projects—such as Denver’s transit expansion—have been funded through public-private partnerships or P3s. P3s can be a success, but they cannot take the place of federal dollars, especially when large-scale transportation projects can take several years to come to fruition.

    There’s a Reason Public Transportation Is Public

    One of the express responsibilities of state and federal government entities is providing public investment for infrastructure and services that support the common interests of our communities. We are not only individual communities but also one nation—connected by a shared economy, laws, and the transportation networks that keep commerce flowing. People in one corner benefit when people in other areas can get to work and grow our economy—it’s just as true for the country as a whole as it is in individual towns and cities.

    There is no substitute for federal investment in multi-modal transportation networks. The strength, benefits, and use of an interconnected transportation network depend on consistent federal funding sufficient to enable local communities of all sizes to build the transportation infrastructure that will support the mobility and workforce access that will attract the private economic investment that creates the positive economic growth that generates the revenue that keeps our governments able to perform their functions well. And if we make smart investments now, the positive cycle will keep on going.

  • #FBF Yesteryear’s Streetcars and Today’s Public Transit



    Streetcars have a long and storied past in America. Various kinds of streetcars still run in New Orleans, Omaha, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Baltimore, San Francisco, and dozens of other cities.

    The streetcar craze began in New York City in 1832, with horses pulling streetcars along fixed tracks set in the road. Later horses were replaced by steam-powered cables and eventually electricity.

    San Francisco opened its now historic cable car system in 1873. Based on mine car operations, the cable car used a mechanism—a “grip”—to latch onto a moving cable. This form of streetcar eventually spread to most large U.S. cities.

    Los Angeles—now known for its car culture—once boasted the largest trolley system in the world, with more than 1,100 miles of track traversing the sprawling metropolitan area.

    The Temporary Disappearance of Streetcars

    For a number of economic, political, and cultural reasons, streetcars fell out of favor, with some systems facing bankruptcy in the 1920s. As automobiles became more prevalent, cars competed for space with streetcars, and eventually undermined streetcar operations and schedules.

    After World War II, Americans could increasingly afford cars, with auto production picking up after wartime limits on manufacturing ended. Bus systems increasingly took the place of streetcars, offering a lower cost alternative. By 1955, most of the nation’s streetcar systems had been dismantled.

    America’s Streetcar Revival

    We are in the midst of a streetcar revival. Beginning in the late 20th century, communities increasingly recognized that roads couldn’t be continuously expanded to accommodate more people and cars. Instead, cities of various sizes began to invest in developing and expanding multimodal transportation networks, including streetcars, bus rapid transit (BRT), and other forms of public transit.

    Portland, Oregon, launched its trend-setting streetcar in 2001, and other cities such as Tucson, Detroit, and Salt Lake City followed. The new streetcar systems not only improved transportation but also helped drive economic development alongside the lines. Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, and Tempe all have streetcar systems under construction.

    Many regions have developed plans for streetcars—and other public transit improvements—but still need federal funding. Congress increased our nation’s investment in public transportation programs for Fiscal Year 2018, though the long-term picture for public transit funding remains unclear, which makes it harder to move projects like these forward, given they require several years of dependable funding.

    To bring streetcar systems and other public transit options to more regions, Congress needs to commit again to public transportation funding in the 2019 budget and in any infrastructure legislation. Streetcars are helping improve mobility and revitalize many city centers—and every community should have similar opportunities to benefit from public transportation.

  • A Critical Piece of the Multi-Modal Transit Puzzle



    With 326 million Americans (and counting) needing to be mobile, our nation requires a robust multi-modal transportation network that includes infrastructure for driving, walking, biking, and public transit.

    Millions of Americans depend on multiple forms of transportation in their daily lives. Think about a commuter who drives to a light rail station, parks, and then takes the train into town, or a student who depends on a bikeshare to reach their after-school job, or a person traveling to a doctor’s office taking the subway and then calling a car on an app to return home.

    This mobility puzzle includes multiple forms of transit, and public transportation is the cornerstone of a multi-modal network that can support this kind of inter-connected mobility for communities large and small.

    The Future is Multi-Modal

    Cities, small towns, and suburbs are looking to multi-modal transit solutions as space limitations prevent us from continually expanding roads. Our population is growing, but our physical space is not.

    Transportation experts and community planners increasingly recognize that the future of American transportation must rely on multi-modal networks that combine a wide array of transportation options:

    • Buses, bus rapid transit (BRT), mini-buses, and paratransit
    • Streetcars, commuter rail, regional rail, and high-speed rail
    • Cars, cabs, van pools, and rideshare services
    • Traditional bikes, e-bikes, bikeshare, and walking

    Though not all people use all forms of transportation, each option has value and ultimately contributes to a better travel experience for everyone: Buses and trains help reduce traffic congestion for drivers; cabs and rideshare services make it more feasible for people to walk and bike because they will have other ways of getting to their destinations if weather or other conditions change; the examples are numerous.

    Holistic transportation networks are essential to making mobility and the flow of commerce easier for each community.

    Why Many is Better Than One

    1. Economic Development and Jobs—Public transportation spurs the growth of business clusters and job creation. On the flip side, limited transportation options and access effectively curb growth and labor market expansion for local communities.
    2. Affordability—Access to public transit can lower the overall cost of transportation for households, freeing up dollars for food, healthcare, housing, education, and other essentials. With reduced transportation costs, individuals and households can better respond to financial stress and pursue education and employment opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.
    3. Generational Shift—Millennials—those who entered adulthood in the early 21st century—use multiple modes of transportation and favor public transit. Now our nation’s most populous generation, millennials have led a decline in driving and created demand for stronger public transit options.

    Our nation is already staying mobile thanks to multi-modal transportation networks anchored by public transit. We must continue to plan and invest for a future that is more and more multi-modal. It is the only solution for keeping our nation moving forward for decades to come.


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