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.

Voices For Transit

We All Benefit

Whether you ride or not, public transportation benefits all of us. It reduces pollution, eases traffic congestion, and helps our communities thrive. In cities, suburbs, and rural America, public transit provides vital connections to jobs, education, medical care, and our larger communities. Help us keep America moving.

  • 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.
  • Public Transit and Education Transform Communities

    Each one of the more than 20 million Americans in college and trade programs this fall are changing their lives through new knowledge, skills, and experiences. Changed lives means transformed communities. Public transit is a big part of making that transformation possible.

    Students from Dallas to Champaign or Knoxville to Seattle and thousands of other communities across the country enjoy affordable, safe, and reliable access to colleges and professional schools because public transit gets them there. Even better, many local public transit systems offer free or reduced fares to college and trade school students.

    Investing in public transit means investing in educational and career opportunities for millions of Americans.  It means helping veterans get back into the workforce when they finish their service; making it possible for single parents to increase their earning potential while juggling kids and multiple jobs; cutting down on the need for commuter students to face traffic and pay for car maintenance, insurance, and parking every day; and bringing more qualified workers into job fields like nursing and high-tech that are struggling to fill positions.

    Thousands of times a day public transit is taking people to places where their lives will be changed and where they will change lives—and entire communities—for the better. That’s a pretty powerful reason why public transportation benefits all of us, even if we don’t ride ourselves.

    Get Social

    Voices for Public Transit is a community of people passionate about bringing public transit to more communities and improving transportation for all Americans. We know public transit is as important to our future as education itself. Help us tell that story. Share your experience or what you see happening in your community on the Voices for Public Transit website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.
  • Advocate Spotlight

    Matt Morrison

    Taking transit eliminates the stresses, expenses and hassles of driving, while contributing to my community economically. I’m able to use my time commuting productively, whether by working on my laptop or gaining new skills via podcast.

    Read More

  • Share Your Experience

    Tell us why you support investments in public transportation for your community.

    Make your story available for use?