Transportation for America is leading a call for the nation's leaders to commit to building a 21st Century transportation system. The organization has formed a broad coalition of housing, environmental, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations seeking to align national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.
''Build for America'' is Transportation for America's five-point plan to provide the transportation services and options needed for the U.S. to compete in the 21st century, while investing in infrastructure that is environmentally sound and efficient.
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AMERICA NEEDS TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS
The cost of just running day to day errands or getting to work, let alone taking that family vacation, just keeps getting worse. We pay for it every day in dollars at the pump and hours lost sitting on congested, crumbling roads. We need a bold agenda to fix our roads and bridges; build high speed trains; invest in public transit, streets safe for biking and walking, and green innovation.
There is a desperate lack of real alternatives for American families because our transportation system is half a century behind—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
21st CENTURY INFRASTRUCTURE, 21st CENTURY JOBS.
Create green jobs through greater investment in modernized infrastructure and healthy communities — from highway maintenance and repair to public transit upgrades to green housing and neighborhood construction.
A WORLD-CLASS RAIL SYSTEM
Build a world-class rail network — both between cities and within them — that links our communities, transports people and goods more smoothly and makes our economy more competitive.
FIXING IT FIRST
Protect the integrity of our existing highway and public transportation systems with an aggressive program of rehabilitation and upkeep, and financial support for superior service.
HELPING PEOPLE DRIVE LESS
Help people drive less, avoid unpredictable gas prices, get healthy and stay active in their own neighborhoods through expanded construction of public transit, bicycle routes, and safe sidewalks to walk on.
Set and enforce national transportation standards, but empower local communities to decide what is necessary to meet those goals as well as the needs of its neighborhoods and residents.
For decades, our cities, towns, and neighborhoods have been built on the assumption that cheap fuel would allow people to drive their cars for every need.
But with fuel prices skyrocketing through 2008, Americans are suffering as a result of a federal policy that has favored highways over public transit, sprawl over walkable communities, and unchecked demand for crude oil over conservation and long term planning.
By expanding our public transit system and allowing people to go places without driving a car, we can strengthen our economy, help protect the environment, and provide Americans with relief from painful fill-ups at the gas pump.
In an era of $4-a-gallon gasoline, Americans are already hunting for ways to cut back on fuel use and drive down our demand for crude oil – we’re hopping on our trains and leaving our cars in the garage, and we’re unloading houses in distant suburbs in favor of homes in pedestrian-friendly urban centers.
Our dependence on oil leaves us vulnerable to an unstable global market, contributes to climate change, and prevents us from making our economy more secure into the 21st century.
With a reformed transportation program, we can give Americans better, cheaper, and more options for commuting, make our communities safe and convenient for bikers and pedestrians, and break free from our addiction to oil.
Opportunity for all
The escalating price of fuel has highlighted the fact that Americans can barely afford to fill up their gas tank each week. Unfortunately, high transportation costs are nothing new to millions of taxpayers.
The Washington, D.C. think tank The Center for Housing Policy reported in October 2006 that working families in 28 U.S. metropolitan areas with incomes between $20,000 and $50,000 spent an average of 29.6 percent of their income on transportation costs – more than housing, health care, and food.
Facing a sluggish economy, high gas prices, and lingering mortgage crisis, Americans of all income levels are more than ever in need of an accessible and efficient transportation network that connects them to work and amenities.
We need to make commuting affordable and sensible for all Americans, not just those who can bear the burden of filling up a gas tank with $60 of fuel twice a month. We need to make safe, affordable housing practical for all citizens, so that workers in our towns and cities can find practical homes in good neighborhoods near good jobs.
By building a world-class rail network and spurring economic development, we can provide green jobs, make our communities more affordable and livable, and provide millions of American with a better way to live, work, and play.
Americans want to live in vibrant, accessible, and safe neighborhoods.
In the face of high gas bills and a slumping housing market across suburban and exurban communities, Americans are increasingly looking for homes in denser communities where they can board a train to work, hop on a bus to the movies, and walk down the street to the grocery store. In an Octboer 2007 poll, nearly 90 percent of Americans said that they believe new communities should be designed so we can walk more and drive less, and that public transportation should be improved and accessible.
(Source: Smart Growth American and National Association of Realtors, “Growth and Transportation Survey,” October 2007. http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/narsgareport2007.html)
Without a transportation that responds to the shifting demands of our nation and helps create affordable, transit-oriented communities, the American people will struggle to find they types of places they want to live in.
Our citizens are voting with their feet – and our local, federal, and state governments need to listen. We need to encourage development around transit stations through economic incentives, plan communities so residents feel comfortable walking and biking, and give Americans a reason to be proud of the public transportation systems in their cities and towns.
In a December 2007 poll of 1000 people, given a hypothetical $100 to invest in transportation, Americans said they would spend $62 on trains and rail, buses, bike paths, and sidewalks, and only $38 on roads. (Source: Harris Interactive poll [+/- 3 pts])
Unfortunately, our nation’s transportation policy has not matched the will of its people.
The federal government spends tens of billions of dollars a year on transportation – 80 percent of which goes to road construction and maintenance, and 20 percent of which goes to transit. In a December 2007, only 23 percent of Americans surveyed said that such a split is the proper way to allocate tax dollars. (Source: Harris Interactive December 2007 poll of 1000 likely voters [+/- 3 pts])
With the scheduled reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2009, Congress has an opportunity to respond to needs of the American people and create a transportation program that will foster economic competiveness and improve our infrastructure so that it can respond to the demands of the 21st century.
We should be setting national transportation standards while empowering local communities to decide what is necessary to meet those goals as well as the needs of its neighborhoods and residents. We need spend money responsibly to fix roads, highways and bridges while building a world-class rail network that will link our cities and foster economic competitiveness. Finally, we have to create policies and programs that reflect the realities of our world by giving Americans opportunities to go to work or the grocery store without draining their savings at the gas pump.