Secretaries LaHood, Donovan on public transportation and connecting to jobs

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke today about a new report on how public transportation helps American workers connect to jobs.

“Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” is “a first-of-its-kind analysis that shows how transit systems link workers to jobs in metropolitan America.” The report emphasizes the importance of not just the location and frequency of transit service, but ultimately how well transit aligns with where people work and live. In an article on today’s Huffington Post, LaHood and Donovan explain that public transportation plays a crucial role in the American economy, and better coordination between federal agencies can yield even greater benefits from this important resource:

In the past 13 months, we have seen signs of economic recovery as we created 1.8 million private sector jobs. But today, the average household spends 52 cents out of every dollar they earn on housing and transportation combined — and rising gas prices are not helping.

That’s why last year, for the first time ever, DOT and HUD joined together to award grants for localized planning and projects that integrate transportation services with affordable housing and access to economic opportunities. Almost 700 applicants sought $35 million in DOT TIGER II planning grants and $40 million in HUD Sustainable Community Challenge Grants, and with our partners at EPA, we jointly evaluated the planning grant applications.

[ . . .]

In Augusta, Georgia and Greenville, SC, our grants are bringing affordable housing and transit together, giving underserved residents who depend on public transportation the access they need to get to work.

In Richmond, VA, a HUD planning grant is not only improving low-income residents’ access to transit — it’s also ensuring that the housing surrounding that transit remains affordable to the families who need it most.

[ . . .]

Whether it’s living in communities that offer employment opportunities or having access to good public transit, today’s Brookings report concludes that one of the smartest things we can do to help families burdened by high prices at the gas pump is to help them get from where they live to where they work.

Earlier this week, Smart Growth America asked to hear stories about what tradeoffs individuals are making in light of rising gas prices. If you want to weigh in on how gas are impacting your decisions, click here to tell us your story.

Read more about how neighborhoods across the country are served by public transportation and the impact it has on workers, and view an interactive map with findings from the new report at the Brookings Institution.

“A Strategic Investment: Getting Americans to Their Jobs” [Huffington Post, 5/12/2011]

“Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America” [Brookings Institution, 5/12/2011]