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 at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and on today’s Huffington Post 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. 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.

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Round One: Your Stories About the Cost of High Gas

Earlier this week, Smart Growth America asked for stories about how high gas prices are affecting you, and we’ve already received an overwhelming response. Thank you to everyone who wrote in. If you haven’t told us about the kinds of tradeoffs you’re making to deal with high gas prices, click here to tell us your story.

We heard from people who are saving money by choosing alternatives to driving, including walking, buses, light rail, subways and biking. We heard from people who wish they had more choices for ways to get around and from people living in rural areas where a car is the only option. People sent stories about delaying vacations, spending less on groceries, trading in a gas guzzler for something with better mileage, skipping doctors appointments that are across town, commuting 20 miles on a bike, and more.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, but a consistent theme through these stories is that people who have shorter drives or transportation choices are not as directly affected by rising gas prices. Part of Smart Growth America’s work is helping great communities have more low cost options for getting around when gas prices get too high, but we need to hear from you to do it. Click here to tell us your story

Here are a few stories that you shared with us so far:

  • Karen in Northern California says gas is $4.69 in her area, but she relies on walking and public transportation to get around. She said she decided to live in a place where she could get around without a car, but she said when she carpools with someone she is sure to chip in more gas money or buy them lunch.
  • Matt moved to rural Ohio six years ago with his family and says gas is $4.00 a gallon and his last tank was $72.00. He and his spouse each spend two hours a day in their cars. He thinks they’ll spend $8,000 on gas this year. They have no other options and are miles away from everything: their daughter’s school, work, stores, etc. He says they’re thinking about moving back into the city, partially because of the expense of all that driving, and partially because they’re just tired of spending so much time in their cars.
  • Christie lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee and says filling up her tank is $50.00. She takes the train and bus as much as possible, but she’s forgoing recommended medical treatments because the doctor’s office is too far away and it would cost too much to get there.
  • JR in Hawaii sent in the highest gas price: $4.91 for a gallon. He said even with a hybrid car and minimizing his family’s driving, they’re still seeing first-hand effects of high gas prices because 70 percent of goods, including food, are shipped to Hawaii. JR says everything is getting more expensive.

How much does gas cost in your area? What are you doing to cope with the high prices of gas? If you don’t drive often, or at all, how do you get around? Smart Growth America wants to help more people have the option of shorter drives and more ways to get around. Click here to tell us your story.

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How are high gas prices affecting you?

Gas prices are nearing record highs, and all signs indicate this trend is here to stay. With the national average near $4/gallon, filling up a tank routinely costs $50 or more. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. household will spend more than $4,300 on gas in 2011. Spending that much at the pump is affecting all of us in different ways, and as the price of gas keeps climbing, many people are figuring out tradeoffs so they can afford to keep moving.

How have high gas prices affected your family? What tradeoffs are you making? Click here to tell your story.

People across the country are feeling the pain of paying so much for gas. Some are stranded and cannot get to work or get to a doctor’s visit. Increasing numbers are opting to carpool with colleagues or take the bus. Others are making major changes in their household budget because they have no other choice besides driving their car to get to where they need to go.

Smart Growth America is looking for stories from people everywhere about what kind of tradeoffs have to be made in the face of higher gas prices. Have you changed your commute or how you run errands? Have you found a new way to get around? Click here to tell your story.

No matter how the cost of gas has impacted you or your family, we want to hear your story. We’ll post the most interesting responses to our Facebook page, Twitter feed and our blog. Tell us your story today.

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Poor sidewalks, bikeways and transit service a barrier for older Americans seeking relief from high gas prices

Guest post by Barbara McCann, coordinator of the National Complete Streets Coalition A new poll out from AARP documents how incomplete streets are making it tough for older Americans to avoid paying the high price of gasoline.  Almost 40 percent of those polled say they don’t have adequate sidewalks in their neighborhood, 55 percent say … Continued

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Enhancing the Pickens Plan with some old-fashioned walkability

You may have seen oilman T. Boone Pickens around lately. If not, then you haven’t turned on your television, radio, or opened a newspaper in the last few weeks. He’s been touting his new Pickens Plan nonstop to nearly any outlet that will listen, taking out full-page ads in newspapers from coast to coast and … Continued

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Gov. Glendening: "Americans demand more and better options"

After years of inactivity while gasoline was cheap, leaders are now scrambling to “do something” about the high gas prices that are making life difficult for everyday Americans. The solutions range from short-sighted (drill ANWR) to ultimately ineffective (national speed limit), and most fail to address the core issue that makes gas prices matter so … Continued

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