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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

  • Public Transit Funding Cuts by the Numbers

    Don’t let the short-term budget bill signed on May 5 lull you into thinking the threat of public transit funding cuts is behind us. The president has yet to release his full budget proposal for the coming fiscal year — but here are just a few of the consequences we anticipate based on the “skinny budget” the administration previewed in February:

    The number of jobs at risk thanks to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Those jobs include 502,000 construction jobs plus another 300,000 jobs associated with increased economic productivity driven by public transit investment.

    The potential loss in economic output resulting from these proposed public transit cuts. Public transit investment pays off in the form of economic growth — growth that will be curtailed by a severe reduction in federal funding.

    Proposed cuts to the “New Starts” program would immediately jeopardize 53 public transit projects that are already underway in 23 states. Bus and rail projects in large and smaller cities could be scaled back or potentially eliminated because of proposed budget cuts.

    Every single state has benefited from the competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grant program, which was launched in 2009. President Trump’s proposed budget would completely eliminate this popular and successful program.

    President Trump has said he plans to invest $1 trillion in American infrastructure over 10 years, including public transportation. It makes no sense to commit to infrastructure improvements only to gut public transportation funding. The American people deserve better.

    We’ll know more soon. We anticipate President Trump could release his full budget proposal as early as next week — and it could be the first step toward eliminating federal support for public transportation altogether.

    Each of these big numbers tells a different story, but together they paint a grim picture of lost jobs, economic damage, and broken promises. Help us make that story even more personal — and more compelling. Take our “World Without Public Transit” survey today.

    This week is National Infrastructure Week. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for more details!

  • Safer Communities Brought to You By Public Transit

    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.

  • The Economic Consequences of Proposed Transit Cuts

    What would America look like without public transportation?

    It is a scary question, but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. President Trump’s budget preview includes deep cuts to public transportation that would start by jeopardizing $38 billion in transit projects already in various stages of development. And that could be just the tip of the iceberg. We may be seeing the first step toward eliminating federal funding for public transportation altogether.

    Public transportation projects of all sizes, all around the country, rely on a combination of federal, state, and local funding. The Trump budget puts at risk dozens of public transit projects that had already received commitments from the federal government. These projects include expansions of public transit in large, congested urban areas such as Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Dallas, but also in smaller cities such as Durham (NC), Baton Rouge (LA), and Reno (NV).

    Transportation Cuts Would Cost Jobs and Hurt Communities

    For millions of Americans, these funding cuts would translate into lost jobs. People would have fewer options for employment and education. Those who cannot drive would have more difficulty accessing healthcare and community services.

    Negative impacts at the personal level also mean negative impacts at the community level—particularly when it comes to economic development and job creation. Numerous studies have shown that public transit funding pays off by creating private-sector jobs, attracting investments, and spurring business growth. These would all be at risk if Congress enacts President Trump’s proposal.

    What Do the President’s Proposed Cuts Mean in Real Numbers?

    Among other things, the President’s recommended budget would drastically reduce funding for the innovative, competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grant program. Since 2009, this program has cost-effectively provided more than $5 billion to more than 420 transportation programs in all 50 states.

    Cuts to the federal “New Starts” program could put at risk more than 800,000 jobs, including 502,000 construction and related jobs; and an additional 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity.

    How Would a World Without Public Transit Affect You?

    We are at a crossroads for public transit. What would happen if our nation ended federal support for public transportation altogether? What would your life be like if public transit in your community couldn’t improve and expand—and what would be the consequences for your community as a whole?

    We want to hear from you! Please take our brief 7-question survey to help us highlight what a world without public transit would look like.

  • Starting off with a BANG

    We’re off to a strong start in fighting to protect public transit from President Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Over April recess, Voices for Public Transit advocates told Congress in no uncertain terms that their constituents believe public transit needs to remain a priority for the federal government.

    Here’s what you accomplished:

    • More than 18,000 emails sent to Congress
    • More than 990 letters to the editor submitted
    • More than 14,254 engagements on Facebook and Twitter
    • More than 190 advocates clicked to download our “Protect Public Transportation Funding” toolkits
    • More than 540 new members joined our community

    Together, we’ve delivered our message through multiple channels and will continue to tell our members of Congress:

    The economic consequences of public transit budget cuts would be devastating to American communities. Congress should honor its longstanding commitment to American public transportation by rejecting President Trump’s proposed cuts to public transit funding.

    If you haven’t had a chance to add your voice to this effort, please take action now.

    President Trump is expected to release his full budget proposal soon — and the budget process will continue for several months.

  • 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.

  • America United for Public Transportation

    The 2016 election showed Americans are deeply divided on many issues, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, a post-election poll found that one topic earning near-unanimous approval is public transportation.

    This American Public Transportation Association (APTA) poll, taken just days after the election, confirms strong bipartisan support for continued investment in public transportation. The results were clear: A majority of voters on both sides of the aisle favor increased funding for public transportation.

    Poll and Election Results Show Bipartisan Support

    The findings underscore the actions of voters in red and blue states alike, as they overwhelmingly supported local public-transit measures on their 2016 ballots. Californians passed many measures, including major funding initiatives in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, citizens in Maine approved a statewide transportation measure that includes support for public transit.

    Voters in swing and more conservative states also passed large-scale transportation measures. In Atlanta, Greensboro, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., voters all approved measures to fund improved and expanded public transportation. In Indianapolis — the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence — voters agreed to a measure that would provide funding for expanded service and new lines for the IndyGo bus system.

    Bipartisan Leadership and Community Support for Public Transportation

    Widespread, bipartisan support for public transportation is not a new trend. In 2015, elected officials from across the political spectrum — including mayors, governors, and members of Congress — supported long-term transportation legislation that included increased funding for public transit.

    A broad range of local and national organizations also voiced their support for public transportation in the months leading up to passage of 2015’s FAST Act. Supporters included labor unions, professional organizations and business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Help Us Welcome Congress to Washington

    Voices for Public Transit advocates are making sure new and returning members of Congress know public transit is an issue everyone agrees on.

    We believe Congress can help unite the nation by focusing on issues on which a majority of voters share common ground — and public transportation would be a great place to start.

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