American transportation is rife with inequality that makes it more difficult for low-income people, people of color, and people with disabilities to get where they need to go, and can put them at greater risk. Today’s inequalities reflect the racism and ableism of the era in which much of today’s network was built, but they also still pervade federal transportation policy. The INVEST Act—a transportation policy proposal in the U.S. House—offers a major first step towards a more equitable transportation system by breaking with many policies of the past.
The average American currently drives nearly twice as far each day as they did 30 years ago. Taking a cursory look at two radically different transportation plans for Houston, TX shows how the default position of federal transportation policy is to increase driving—and consequently pollution—by offering billions to states to build new roads and make existing roads wider, while making transit projects wait in line or compete for much smaller amounts of funding.
Yesterday afternoon in Washington, DC, President Obama called on Congress to adopt a long-term transportation bill on the scale of his recently proposed four-year, $302 billion program. In a speech in front of the Key Bridge in Georgetown, the president also appealed to Congress to save the Highway Trust Fund from pending insolvency, which would threaten jobs and the progress of vital transportation projects nationwide.