By Leslie Wollack
NLC 1st Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, described the critical role public transportation has for local economies and why further investment is needed at a recent Capitol Hill briefing as part of Infrastructure Week 2014.
The briefing hosted by NLC along with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the US Travel Association, included local perspectives on the benefits of public transit development.
Mayor Becker spoke in detail on how investment has transformed Salt Lake City's local economy with more than 70 miles of new rail lines built in the past five years.
“For us at the local level, we look at livability, at what will create the full environment that makes for a healthy community," said Mayor Becker.
The real world examples were backed by APTA's new study, The Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment, which delivers findings on the direct economic benefits of transit investments, including jobs in manufacturing, construction and public transit operations.
The study also examines longer-term investment impacts on economic efficiency due to better mobility and the implications for urban development and transportation policy.
Also last week, a Senate panel took the first step toward a new transportation authorization bill with the Senate Environment and Public Works committee adopting a six year bill.
The Committee adopted S 2322 by unanimous vote to keep highway spending at current levels and retain current programs from the Moving American Forward for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) – the legislation that expires on September 30th.
The bill would create a freight initiative for a state formula program, continue funding for TIFIA credit program and raise the funding going directly to metropolitan areas under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) – which includes bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways.
We need your assistance in gathering support for the TAP program. Sign the letter for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
For information on how to get involved in the transportation debate and give voice to local concerns in reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs, get the toolkit here.