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 Transportation Brought to You by American Manufacturers

    Public transportation’s economic reach is much greater than simply getting people from Point A to Point B and back again every day. It’s much greater even than the 400,000+ women and men who are directly employed by public transit systems around the country.

    Public transportation supports a diverse supply chain that includes more than 200 manufacturers in more than 30 states. These companies include builders of rail cars and buses, as well as manufacturers of vehicle equipment and parts, such as electric systems, chassis, interiors, communications systems, and more.

    While many public transit manufacturers and suppliers are located in large metropolitan regions, scores of companies are found in smaller cities and states with fewer urban populations.

    Manufacturer Snapshot — ElDorado

    One example of a small-town public transportation supplier is ElDorado, a manufacturer of light- and medium-duty buses. Located in Salina, Kansas, ElDorado is the largest manufacturer of 20- to 26-foot transit buses, which are used by smaller public transit systems and for paratransit.

    ElDorado has been operating for nearly 40 years and, with the support of contracts from public transit systems around the country, the company was able to expand into a state-of-the-art plant in 2001.

    Salina, the seat of Saline County, is a city of about 48,000, located about 81 miles north of Wichita, the closest metropolitan area. ElDorado is a major employer in Salina, supporting approximately 300 jobs.

    Beyond Buses and Railcars

    Public transit requires more than vehicles: stations, shelters, benches, fare and ticketing equipment, signage, and more, all have to be manufactured to support public transit operations.

    Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment for public transit can be found in many states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and Georgia. At least two shelter manufacturers — Austin Mohawk in Utica, New York, and Handi-Hut in Clifton, New Jersey — are veteran owned or founded.

    U.S. manufacturing has strengthened in recent years, and public transit organizations have a wide choice of equipment made by American manufacturers. In addition, the federal “Buy America” policy encourages public transit systems to contract with American manufacturers. Federal government investments in America’s public transportation infrastructure are a great way to support American workers and manufacturers and stimulate local private-sector economic growth.

  • Public Transit Supporters Share Views About Proposed Budget Cuts

    Voices for Public Transit recently surveyed our members to ask, “What would your world look like without public transit?” You can read what members like you told us in our most recent blog post, “We Asked; You Answered: What Public Transit Cuts Could Mean.

    We also asked people to share their individual stories about how the President’s proposed cuts to public transportation would affect them personally. Here is what your fellow public transit advocates shared with us.

    Job Losses and Increased Poverty
    A Philadelphia transit supporter wrote, “A vast number of citizens in my area travel into and out of the city for their jobs, using public transport — buses and regional trains. Remove those options and you will vastly shrink the pool of workers, which will cripple businesses and needlessly throw families into poverty. There is not a single benefit to any of it, for corporations or individuals. Only in ignorance could someone make a case for it.”

    Increased Costs and Traffic Congestion
    Another transit supporter wrote, “For me, it means increased costs because I will have to buy a vehicle. I’ve chosen to not own a car, because I’m a strong supporter of public transportation and I prefer living in an area with good public transportation access. There is good and extensive public transportation in my region, but congestion is a huge problem, so reduction or total elimination of transit will only worsen congestion and affect the economy of the entire region.”

    Lost Independence
    One Ohio advocate wrote, “[Cutting public transit] would take my independence away. I do not like to ask anybody to take me anywhere unless I absolutely have to. I would not be able to go to the grocery store or other shopping on a limited income.”

    Undermining the Basic Right to Be Mobile
    Finally, a public transportation advocate from the Washington, D.C., area wrote, “Public transportation in DC is already stretched close to the breaking point. Any further funding cuts could inflict irreparable damage to the system and riders who depend on it for their economic and social empowerment. Government needs to increase, not decrease or eliminate, appropriations to public transportation. Convenient, reliable, affordable public transportation serves the well-being of communities and is a basic right of all citizens.”

    The core message we’re hearing from public transit supporters is that President Trump’s proposed cuts will drastically impact the quality of life in our communities, big and small, across the nation.

    For decades, members of Congress from both parties have recognized the value of public transportation to their constituents — and as a result, there has been strong bipartisan support for funding public transportation.

    President Trump’s proposal to gut public transportation funding goes directly against the wishes and wellbeing of the American people. What remains to be seen is whether Congress chooses to follow the President’s recommendations or maintains its commitment to improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure by investing in improved and expanded public transportation for communities of all sizes.

  • Supply Chain: The “Service” in Public Transit Service

    While many public transit systems are public (government) agencies, they often rely on a wide range of private-sector contractors to meet their staffing or service needs. Even vehicle operations — such as driving buses or conducting trains — may be provided by licensed professional contractors rather than agency employees.

    This approach to supporting the services required for public transit operations gives public transit systems greater flexibility, helps them manage costs more effectively, and keeps overall service more affordable and efficient.

    What Types of Services are Contracted?

    According to a study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the majority of American public transit systems contract some or all of their operations and services. Private-sector contractors include a wide array of professionals:

    • Vehicle, system, and facility maintenance
    • Construction
    • Security
    • Technology services
    • Advertising and public relations
    • Vehicle operations

    Contracting brings competitive bidding to public transit operations, which can enable systems to save costs and improve services while supporting millions of private-sector jobs.

    Public-Private Partnerships

    In some regions, public transit agencies enter into long-term, more-comprehensive contracting arrangements known as public-private partnerships, or P3s. Private contractors provide the financing for a public transit project or service, like a new rail line or an extension of bus service, and operate the service in return for ongoing payments from the public transit agency.

    Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), for example, has a P3 arrangement with a private contractor to run rail service on the city’s east side. This type of contracting can make expanding public transportation more feasible than the public transit agency or local taxpayers having to shoulder the upfront costs alone. While P3s are not appropriate for every public transportation system, they are one solution for raising funds and tapping new ideas to improve public transit.

  • We Asked; You Answered: What Public Transit Cuts Could Mean

    Federal funding plays an important role in bringing public transit to local communities, as well as in maintaining and improving existing public transportation systems. We asked Voices for Public Transit members to tell us how their lives and communities might be affected if that funding were curtailed significantly or eliminated altogether. How would people’s lives change?

    We asked, and you answered. Here are the main takeaways:

    • Traffic Congestion — The number one concern, according to the Voices for Public Transit community, would be increased 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 — or $960 per average motorist. In many communities, traffic congestion is only getting worse and will worsen dramatically if Congress curtails or eliminates federal public transit funding.

    • Job Losses and Increased Poverty — Second only to traffic congestion, job losses and increased poverty were seen as the second-worst community consequence. Public transportation plays a vital role in enabling many Americans who cannot afford to own a car to participate in the economy through full-time work, access to educational opportunities, and more. In addition, according to a Harvard University study, access to public transit is the number one factor for lifting people out of poverty.

    • Increased Costs — To date, more than 74 percent of survey respondents have said the cost of transportation would increase for their household in a world without public transportation. This isn’t surprising given that the average household that gives up a car and uses public transportation instead can save more than $9,700 annually.

    When President Trump in March announced his initial plans to cut public transit funding, it sent a shockwave through our community. On May 22, the President released his full budget proposal, and the outcome for public transit remains disappointing. His proposed public transit cuts reaffirmed possible dire consequences for our public transportation infrastructure and economy. We will be watching closely to see whether Congress decides to act on those recommendations or take a different course.

  • Public Transportation Drives Innovation

    Public transportation has been part of America’s history almost since the nation’s founding (think stagecoaches!). Innovation and technology have driven public transportation’s growth, expansion, and solidified its place as an economic driver. As just one example, public transit in the form of ferries and railroads spurred advances in steam technology.

    Today, a range of innovative technologies and services are part of the public transportation sector’s vibrant economic supply chain, including:

    • Clean Technology — Public transit investment has supported advances in hybrid and electric vehicles, electric storage, biofuels, and more. These investments help reduce pollution and support jobs in renewable energy technology.

    • Safety Technologies — Safety technologies adopted by public transit may be seen as the precursor of autonomous vehicles. Collision avoidance systems, blind spot detection, and driver fatigue alerts have all emerged because of public transit investments.

    • Information Technology — Advances in IT and communications have improved public transit payment systems, scheduling, and vehicle control. You’ll find public transportation supply chain companies operating in tech centers like Silicon Valley, Austin, and Boston.

    • Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) — The public transportation ecosystem now includes TNCs, also known as rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft. Several public transit systems are partnering with TNCs to help riders travel the last or first mile of their trips.

    Case Study: Cummins, Advancing Emission Reductions

    With the support of the federal government, several public transit systems around the country have been investing in low- and no-emission vehicles. These investments pay off in the long term in the form of cleaner air and lower operating costs.

    Engine manufacturing giant Cummins has developed hybrid and natural gas engines that produce fewer greenhouse gases than previous generations of engines. These cleaner engines are now found in public transportation buses around the country. In addition, truck fleets are also adding cleaner vehicles. Cummins has a roadmap for developing engines that run on renewable biofuels, and it is projecting a future where power can be generated by systems that combine natural gas with wind or solar power.

    Most of Cummins U.S. administrative and manufacturing operations are not located in large urban areas. The company’s headquarters are found in Columbus, Indiana, a city of about 45,000 people located some 40 miles south of Indianapolis. Cummins is the area’s largest employer.

    Public transportation around the country helps support Columbus jobs at Cummins. It’s a great example of how America’s public transportation sector supports jobs and economic opportunity in communities of all sizes.

  • Advocate spotlight

    David R.

    I am a regular rider of SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Agency), Philadelphia's transit agency.

    Read More

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