Posts Tagged ‘public transit’

SMART-TD, unions, transit agencies call on congressional leaders to provide emergency aid to public transportation

The SMART Transportation Division was among the 36 signatories in a letter sent Aug. 4 calling on leaders in Congress to provide $36 billion in emergency aid to public transportation agencies as the economy continues to be staggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter delivered a stark warning to lawmakers: without at least $32 billion in emergency funding, transit systems in both urban and rural areas face irreversible harm. In the letter, the organizations explained that physical distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders, have taken a serious toll on demand for public transportation services. This, in turn, has placed a major strain on funding sources public transportation agencies traditionally rely on, including farebox revenue and sales tax receipts.

The text of the letter appears below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the millions of Americans who rely on public transportation every day, the 435,000 frontline workers who operate and maintain those systems, and the public transportation agencies that serve communities across America, we urge you to include at least $32 billion in funding for public transportation in the next COVID-19 emergency response bill.

As you know, physical distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders, have taken a serious toll on overall demand for public transportation services. This has placed a major strain on the revenue sources public transportation agencies count on for continued operations, including farebox revenue and sales taxes. Nonetheless, throughout this crisis, millions of Americans have continued to depend on reliable and safe public transportation to get to and from work and for other essential services.

Without robust public transit systems in our urban and rural communities alike, the national economy will not be able to recover. As recently reported in The New York Times, some public transit systems are in danger of heading into a “transit death spiral” where evaporating revenues lead to cuts in services, which in turn cause riders to find alternative means of transportation if they can, further incapacitating transit systems to the point where they become insolvent and inoperable. Communities and transit agencies of all sizes are hurting, and critical emergency funding must be made available immediately to avoid a worsening crisis.

Millions of essential workers bravely fighting on the front lines of this pandemic have no other means of transportation. Healthcare, grocery, and other workers will be put at risk of losing their jobs and livelihoods. And families who rely on transit for transportation to pick up food, get to work, and meet their health care needs will be left stranded. Likewise, Americans who depend on paratransit service and Medicaid recipients who receive medical transportation for critical care services will lose their only transportation lifeline. Seniors, communities of color, and other groups who disproportionately rely on transit will be particularly hard-hit, further weakening our country at the worst possible time.

Unfortunately, if Congress does not provide the necessary funding for public transportation in the immediate future, the traveling public will suffer. Allowing vital transportation services to lapse in the middle of a global pandemic will guarantee more harm to our communities and place the economic well-being of the American public in jeopardy.

Our communities across the country are depending on you to act swiftly and decisively to save public transit. This will require an immediate investment of at least $32 billion in our transit systems. We urge you to include this funding in the next aid package.

Sincerely,

Amalgamated Transit Union
Active Transit Alliance (Chicago, IL)
American Public Transportation Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Better Bus Coalition (Cincinnati, OH)
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
Central Ohio Transit Authority (Columbus, OH)
Center for Disability Rights (Rochester, NY / Washington, DC)
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago, IL)
Circulate San Diego
Coalition for Smarter Growth (Washington, DC)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investing in Place (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) (Los Angeles, CA)
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, Texas)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York, NY)
National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Riders Alliance (New York, NY)
San Francisco Transit Riders
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
Sound Transit (Seattle, WA)
The Street Trust (Portland, OR)
Transit Forward Philadelphia
Transit Matters (Boston, MA)
Transportation for America
Transportation Communications Union/IAM
Transport Workers Union
Tri-State Transportation Campaign (NY, NJ, CT)
Transportation Choices Coalition (Seattle, WA)
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Washington, D.C.)

A PDF version of the letter also is available.

Study finds Americans support more public transit

NJ TransitWASHINGTON – A new national survey reveals that more than 7 in 10 Americans support increased federal funding for the nation’s public transportation systems, including those that serve small cities, towns, and large urban areas. The survey was conducted by ORC International for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and it shows support for increased funding for public transit is consistent across communities of all sizes.

Support for increased public transportation funding was also seen across age groups and political affiliations, with some of the highest numbers among Millennials ages 18 – 34 (77 percent) and individuals age 65 and older (76 percent).

“No matter where you live and work – and what age you are, public transit provides vital access to jobs and everything a community has to offer,” said APTA President and CEO Michael P. Melaniphy. “As Congress finalizes its work on the surface transportation bill, we must ensure we provide for both large and smaller communities through growth of the federal transit program.”

Owning or having access to a private vehicle does not diminish public transit support across the nation, with 71 percent of car owners reporting that they want to see more federal investment in public transportation in both large and small communities. In addition, a majority (56 percent) of respondents said public transit is important in attracting and retaining employers in their community.

When asked about the types of public transit survey respondents are familiar with in their community, they noted scheduled bus (57 percent), van/buses for persons with disabilities (51 percent), passenger train (40 percent), inter-state bus (37 percent), commuter vanpools (27 percent), trolleys (20 percent) and ferries (19 percent).

The national online study was conducted for APTA by ORC International in the summer of 2015 among a sample of 1,019 individuals age 18 or older. The results have a 95 percent confidence level.

For more details on the survey results, visit www.apta.com.

Use of public transit at highest level since 1956

PHILADELPHIA – More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report released on Monday.

The trade group said in its annual report that 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 billion in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon.

Read the complete story at The New York Times.

Elect lawmakers who support public transit

By Bonnie Morr,

Alternate vice president, Bus Department

Right now in our country, economics are spelling out what transit and transportation will look like, now and in the future.

The UTU Bus Department has been following politics and the trends for funding that are necessary for passenger and public transportation to meet the needs of an aging population and growing automobile congestion. It does not look good.

In every town and community, hard decisions must be made — and we want those decisions made by lawmakers who understand the importance of adequate, reliable and safe public transportation, including transportation of school children by bus.

We have a responsibility to our families, children and community to make sure that the funding for public transportation stays in place. We can do that with our votes on Election Day.

When we say, “vote your paycheck,” keep in mind that the jobs of UTU Bus Department members depend on adequate, reliable and safe funding for public transportation.

We need to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates who support adequate, reliable and safe public transportation.

Think jobs, because there are candidates out there who are coming after our jobs.

When you cast your ballot on Election Day, support candidates who will do the right thing when it comes to funding and ensuring adequate, reliable and safe public transportation.

I am a laborer. I drive a bus. I want the labor protections that labor-friendly candidates will honor with laws and regulations that my mother fought for as an organizer for the Ladies Garment Workers Union.

We have protections as unionized bus operators, and we want to extend those protections to the unorganized.

Let us all support candidates who are pledged to increased funding for public transportation, job security, safe working conditions and an environment that respects working families.