Discussions around infrastructure are intensifying on Capitol Hill. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year, $715 billion INVEST in America Act the first week in July. It includes $109 billion in transit investments. It’s now up to senators. They must keep public transit investment on track.
Federal transportation policy has been on autopilot for the last four decades. Typically, 80 percent of transportation funding goes to highways and 20 percent to public transportation. This must change. While roads are important, and cars are needed, the significance of public transit access is too often overshadowed.
Public transportation is a lifeline for many. It’s the sole means by which they can access employment, education, health care, goods, services, and entertainment. In Missouri alone, public transportation delivers more than 60 million rides in every county each year. The economic impact is more than $3.6 billion. Transit access is essential for any community to survive, let alone thrive.
Public transportation is also actively addressing some of our nation’s most critical issues. People need to get to work, and transit connects those who don’t have other transportation options to employment opportunities. Urban cores are transit access hotspots and help break inequity barriers by providing access to the quality, living-wage jobs that exist in surrounding communities. Rail systems and electric bus fleets are also helping to address air quality and climate matters.
Missourians must stand up for transit by reaching out to our congressional delegation. Support for infrastructure legislation that makes transit investment a priority is imperative.
Kimberly Cella is the executive director of the Missouri Public Transit Association and Citizens for Modern Transit.