Now is the Time for a Transportation Policy with a New Vision that Creates Economic Prosperity, Promotes Energy Independence, and Reduces our Nation’s Carbon Footprint

Interior of subway train,New York City,New York,United States photo

Now is the Time for a Transportation Policy with a New Vision that Creates Economic Prosperity, Promotes Energy Independence, and Reduces our Nation’s Carbon Footprint

Investing in Public Transportation is Key To Meeting These National Goals

Transit News

December 18, 2008

by Virginia Miller (202) 496-4816

With a new Administration and a new Congress in 2009, now is the time to create a visionary transportation policy that will create economic prosperity, promote energy independence, and reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

“With the economic crisis at hand and growing unemployment, an economic recovery program that invests in public transportation projects can immediately create green jobs for Americans,” said APTA President William W. Millar.  “Not only will this help hundreds of thousands of Americans who need jobs now, but it will also build an expanded transit infrastructure that will help meet the growing public demand for public transportation. Additionally, investing in public transportation will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and lessen our carbon emissions.”

In an APTA survey completed in early December, 216 public transit systems said that they had identified more than 700 transit projects that could be initiated within 90 days of federal funding.  Totaling $12.2 billion, these public transit jobs would create and support 340,000 American jobs.

If economic recovery legislation was to cover a two year period, a total of $47.8 billion worth of public transit projects could be funded, yielding over 1.3 million jobs.

The types of transit projects include: building new transit facilities; rehabilitating and expanding rail lines; purchasing new energy efficient buses and new rail cars.

“The American public has shown they strongly support public transit, by taking it in record numbers and by voting for increased funding in state and local ballot initiatives,” said Millar.

In 2007 Americans took 10.3 billion trips on U.S. public transportation – the highest number of trips taken in 50 years. The first three quarters of 2008 are up by 5 percent over the same period for 2007, culminating in a third quarter ridership increase of 6.5 percent – the highest quarterly increase in 25 years – despite the fact that gas prices were declining for most of this quarter.

Additionally, the American public showed its support for public transportation on Election Day as 75 percent of all the ballot initiatives for public transportation passed throughout the country, even as the economy slowed.

“Now is the time for a transportation policy that has a new vision that not only includes increasing mobility for all, but also addresses the national goals of energy independence and reducing our nation’s carbon footprint,” said Millar.

U.S. public transportation saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually – more than three times the amount of gasoline refined from the oil we import from Kuwait each year.

Public transportation in the United States also reduces carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons a year.  This national carbon savings is equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. To achieve a similar reduction in carbon emissions, every household in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles combined would have to completely stop using electricity.

“It is time to make our challenges become opportunities,” concluded Millar. “Public transportation should be a major piece of any economic recovery legislation and any future legislation that addresses energy independence and climate change.”

APTA has sent letters to President-Elect Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid encouraging them to support a significant investment in public transportation in the economic recovery legislation that is scheduled to be voted on in early 2009.

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