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.

  • A Look at the Public Transportation Supply Chain

    American public transportation carries more than 35 million people every weekday. This massive undertaking is made possible by a $66 billion public transportation sector that directly employs about 400,000 people.

    The employment and economic value of American public transportation reaches much further than just mobility. The government investment made in public transportation supports millions of private-sector jobs all across the country. In fact, more than 70 percent of government funding for public transit flows through the private sector.

    These private-sector jobs are part of a critical, but often unseen, public transportation supply chain. When Washington focuses on infrastructure in the coming months, members of Congress should remember that public transportation investments benefit a broad array of American businesses.

    What Makes Up the Public Transportation Supply Chain?

    Private-sector companies across the United States serve the public transit industry in many ways. In some cases, local businesses with various specialties provide services to their area's transit system. In other instances, larger manufacturers or nimble software companies serve public transit systems in many states. What do all these companies do?

    • Vehicle and Parts Manufacturers — America’s public transit supply chain includes manufacturers of rail cars, buses, and vehicle equipment and parts, such as electric systems, chassis, and interiors. Public transportation manufacturers can be found in more than 30 states.
    • Equipment Manufacturers and Suppliers — Public transit operations rely on much more than vehicles. Think of the public transit system in its entirety: rail platforms, escalators, shelters, safety equipment, fare collection systems, and more are all pieces of the public transportation supply chain.
    • Professional Support — Engineers, architects, transportation planners, and other professional specialties are instrumental to building and maintaining the public transit ecosystem. Some public transit systems also retain advertising and public relations agencies, outside accountants, and attorneys in addition to the full-time staff who support their day-to-day operations.
    • Service Providers — Public transportation systems contract with private-sector companies to provide a range of services, such as security, facility maintenance, vehicle repair, and more.
    • Emerging Technologies — Public transportation systems invest in innovation to improve their operations. Companies specializing in clean fuels and vehicles, safety technologies, and software, Wi-Fi service, and apps are all part of the public transportation supply chain.

    The takeaway: Public transportation has positive employment, economic, and innovation impacts for communities across the nation because this industry supports a large, diversified supply chain. Congress needs to recognize this bigger picture when it takes steps to improve and expand America’s transportation infrastructure. Money invested in public transit is money that supports much more than just mobility.

  • Public Transportation Drives Property Values and Investment

    When you think of mobility, you think of people moving from place to place… but do you ever think of home values when you think of public transportation?

    Public Transit Boosts Real Estate

    Real estate and property values may not be top of mind when we consider the role of public transportation, but when homes are located near rail or bus lines, the property value performs better compared to homes that are not located near high-frequency public transportation. Following the housing crisis in 2009, homes located within a half-mile of high-frequency public transportation service continued to increase in value, performing 42 percent better than other homes.

    Thousands of neighborhoods near rail lines have seen their housing values outperform the national average. Communities built around public transportation services, known as “transit-oriented development” (TOD), saw home values grow by 37 percent compared to the national average of 20 percent. Since 1996, home values in TOD areas have grown nearly twice as fast as home values nationally.

    Housing costs may be higher close to transit, but residents often enjoy lower transportation costs. People living in TODs spend 13 percent of their income on transportation compared to the national average of 18 percent.

    Both Rail and Buses Attract Investment

    Rail service attracts a range of investments beyond residential property. In Portland, Oregon, a new light rail line opened in 2015. When the line was under construction, developers recognized that the new service would support commerce and residential living, which attracted numerous investments near the line. When service opened on the new line, more than 480,000 square feet of new educational and research space opened as well, with plans for large mixed-use developments to follow.

    Bus rapid transit (BRT) can also drive economic development. BRT systems provide the benefits of rail with the flexibility of traditional bus systems. Typically, BRT buses operate in dedicated lanes and may have right-of-way at intersections, enabling faster travel. A recent study found that BRT corridors — areas within a half-mile of BRT service — saw increased levels of office space development, residential investment, and high-wage job creation.

    Cleveland’s HealthLine BRT system is a 6.8-mile line that cost about $50 million to build and has attracted an estimated $5.8 billion in development. This translates into a $114 return on every $1 of public transit investment.

    Voices for Public Transit advocates should remind elected officials that investments in public transit pay economic dividends as well as providing mobility and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans.

  • Public Transportation Helps Communities Thrive

    Voices for Public Transit is looking beyond the dollars and cents to see how public transit helps create strong communities that benefit everyone in them.

    This is the third blog in our 2017 kickoff series to highlight the many benefits of public transportation. In our first two posts, we examined the economic and employment benefits that come from investment in public transit.

    Safer, More Efficient Travel

    Public transportation makes traveling safer by reducing injuries from accidents, ultimately saving lives. Riding public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car. In addition, all forms of transportation are safer in regions with a strong public transit system, improving the lives of all residents including those who do not use public transportation.

    Fewer people using individual cars = less road congestion for everyone. Without public transportation, travel delays would be significantly worse — and research shows that this applies to regions of all sizes. Large, urban regions — such as the New York metropolitan area — see the greatest benefits in terms of saved time and dollars, but smaller, less densely populated communities benefit as well.

    Healthier Communities

    You may not realize it, but those who use public transportation see not just economic benefits but health benefits as well. Using public transit often requires a level of physical activity — such as standing at a station or walking to a final destination. These benefits are so significant that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends expanding public transit to improve public health.

    Public transportation use also reduces air pollution. Fewer cars on the roads mean less exhaust, improving the air quality for the entire community.

    Vibrant Commercial and Entertainment Districts

    Cultural, commercial, and retail districts are all stimulated by public transportation access. Communities with strong public transportation systems are able to attract more visitors, host successful public events, and support local commerce. In addition, the availability of public transit reduces the need for parking lots, freeing up additional space for housing, commercial buildings, plazas, and city parks.

    On top of providing economic benefits, public transit-supported districts give communities a sense of “place,” increasing social interaction, and contributing to neighborhood safety and stability. People who cannot drive or do not have access to a vehicle, like seniors, students, and people with disabilities, can still access neighborhoods with public transportation.

    Public transportation knits communities together. The economics of public transportation are hugely positive, and the benefits of public transportation go deeper than just financial savings. Public transit transforms our communities and improves our daily lives, whether we ride it every day ourselves or not.

  • Public Transportation: The Local Job Connection

    Direct and Indirect Jobs

    Investments in all forms of transportation spur job creation, but this is especially true of investments in public transportation.

    Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports approximately 50,000 local jobs. In particular, public transportation spurs the development and expansion of business clusters — regions where interconnected businesses speed economic growth and job creation for their areas. Congested roadways and insufficient transportation options tend to slow job growth. Investments in public transit improvements could lead to the creation of an estimated 480,000 jobs in business clusters by 2040.

    Expanded public transportation services will also create more direct employment. Today, approximately 7,200 public U.S. transportation organizations employ about 400,000 people. New technologies not only continue to make public transportation more efficient, but also create more work opportunities.

    Job Access

    Public transportation doesn’t just support jobs by attracting investments near transit lines. It also connects employers to employees, and gives people access to a wider array of employment options. For people who can’t drive — for instance, due to a disability — or who don’t have access to a car, public transportation can be life-changing when it comes to their professional opportunities.

    In a study conducted by Harvard University researchers, access to public transit was found to be the No. 1 factor for lifting people out of poverty. Reliable transportation enables greater employment options for lower-income Americans. When public transportation is unavailable and commute times are long, poverty rates are higher.

    When people are mobile, they can also participate more broadly in the economy — by accessing shopping, events, and services, thereby stimulating more jobs in each of these sectors.

    Not every member of Congress recognizes the value of public transportation, and some don’t realize the relationship between public transportation and job creation. When we advocate for public transportation, let’s be sure to connect the dots between public transit and local job and employment growth.

  • Like Economic Development? Support Public Transit.

    One of the most powerful arguments in favor of increased investment in public transportation is its role in supporting and stimulating our economy.

    Spurring Economic Development

    Public transportation fosters economic development, real estate investment, and local job creation. Investments in the planning and construction of new public transportation projects provide a short-term economic stimulus but also lead to long-term, cumulative impacts on economic growth and productivity. Outcomes vary by region and project, but it’s estimated that a $1 billion public transportation investment over a 20-year period results in a $3.7 billion economic boost.

    What does this boost look like? In regions across the country, public transit networks attract new businesses, residential expansions, office building development, recreation hubs, and sports facilities. In addition, a strong transportation infrastructure that includes public transit fosters the growth of business clusters.

    A study of 300 U.S. regions concluded regions of all sizes benefit economically from investments in public transportation.

    Cutting Costs

    Investing in public transportation will reduce the enormous cost our nation pays for 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 — $960 per average motorist. By 2020, this could rise to $192 billion. Improved and expanded public transportation will enable us to limit traffic-related losses and make the general flow of commerce more efficient.

    At the individual level, public transportation also benefits household budgets. Commuting to work via public transportation instead of driving in a private car provides an annual average savings of about $9,700 per person.

    Economic Opportunity

    It’s clear that public transit connects people to jobs and educational opportunities. Public transportation also enables people without access to a car or who can’t drive to participate in the local economy — to reach shopping, dining, events, and services. This includes seniors, youth, people with disabilities, and lower-income Americans.

    Right now, Congress is focusing a lot of attention on creating jobs and lifting our nation’s economy. Public transportation provides an essential service to millions of Americans — and every American (not just riders) benefits from reduced air pollution, less congested roads, and increased local economic activity.

    Public transportation isn’t just a service; it is an economic engine. This is a message Washington should remember as it turns its attention to revitalizing America’s infrastructure.

    Public transportation serves a critical need, providing mobility for millions of Americans. And yes, for many people, it is the only option for reaching work, accessing medical care, and connecting with friends and family, all of which are public goods in and of themselves. But our elected leaders need to see the bigger picture — the picture in which public transit is a cornerstone of a modern transportation network that drives economic growth and community development nationwide.

  • Advocate spotlight

    Josey H.

    My name is Josey Hazelton, and I love the sense of freedom I experience when using public transit.

    Read More

  • Share Your Experience

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

    Make your story available for use?