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.