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.
Early yesterday morning, congressional leaders and the White House agreed to a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stabilization plan that includes $25 billion emergency direct assistance to transit agencies, at a time when agencies’ revenue is plummeting, as well as more than $1 billion for passenger rail. This is a huge victory, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your messages and calls to Congress. But there’s still more work to do.
Senate republicans have unveiled their $1 trillion economic stimulus plan and not a single dollar is dedicated to supporting transit or Amtrak. This is unacceptable. Without action now some of the hardest-hit transit agencies won’t be able to recover, even if transit is included in a fourth stimulus package.
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.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) claims that it isn’t intentionally slowing down and undermining transit funding. But nine communities have been waiting months for federal funding on shovel-ready transit projects that have been “allocated” money by USDOT without actually receiving a single dollar. For one of those communities, it has been 10 months since USDOT “allocated” money—an unprecedented and unnecessary delay. How long are communities supposed to wait for USDOT to do its job and fund these transit projects?
This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we are joined by Sean Northup, Deputy Director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization. Sean chats about the Indianapolis Red Line, the first of three BRT routes that will crisscross the region. Those lines and other transit improvements are being funded in part by local, dedicated funding which was won after a long and arduous process, as Sean explains.
Since Transportation for America launched their Stuck in the Station resource, local leaders, journalists, editorial boards, and members of Congress have been loudly critical of USDOT’s failure to fund and advance transit projects. Here’s some of the most recent updates.
This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we’re joined by Bill Sirois, Senior Manager, Transit Oriented Communities with RTD in Denver. Bill chats about the success of the transit agency’s TOD program, the project to rehabilitate the historic Union Station (and the area surrounding it), and what comes next when the current period of transit expansion comes to a close.
Of the $2.3 billion that Congress has given USDOT for transit capital investments since Trump took office, USDOT has distributed a meager 20 percent to transit projects waiting for funding. These avoidable delays are costing local communities money and putting jobs at risk.
Last March, Congress provided the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with about $1.4 billion to help build and expand transit systems across the country. 142 days later and counting, FTA has obligated almost none of these funds to new transit projects. Our resource—Stuck in the Station—will continue tracking exactly how long FTA has been declining to do their job, how much money has been committed, and which communities are paying a hefty price in avoidable delays.