Equity and transit are two concepts that are not always intuitively linked together, but through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), partnership between the private and public sectors can lead to significant strides towards advancing equity through transit.
Mobility is key to economic opportunity. In Orlando, FL residents with a personal vehicle have access to over 520,000 jobs, whereas those using public transit have access to only 5,600 within a 30 minute commute. According to the White House, “communities of color are twice as likely to take public transportation.” Access to transit leads to different outcomes for different racial groups in terms of wealth, health and opportunity.
The BIL presents $1.2 trillion in funding to not only fix existing infrastructure problems, but, as the law explicitly states, to raise up communities that have historically been left behind. There is enormous potential for municipalities that are administering BIL dollars to ensure that they are dispersed equitably and in such a way that the dollars multiply to support the community beyond the transit project itself.
One method of ensuring equity in new transit projects is through contracting with local Minority-and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE), a practice that has become more common in recent history. Local vendor utilization can have an outsized positive impact on a community.
Businesses of all sizes and types can follow local government’s lead and seek out locally-owned MWBEs as they partner with local governments or enter new communities. Passport, a Charlotte-based mobility software and payments company that builds solutions to more efficiently manage the competing demand at the curb, is proactive in joining with local communities of all sizes to help transform mobility and access to data.
Passport’s approach is collaborative and equity-focused. One size does not fit all, and our platform and partnerships reflect that. Passport’s commitment to equity goes beyond MWBE bid requirements. For example, Passport has a partnership with iAccess Life, a mobile app that lets users with disabilities rate, review, and research the places they visit to easily ensure that the space is accessible and can accommodate their needs. The company provides a platform that aims to assist in shining a light on accessibility flaws, including parking.
This integration with the Passport platform enables its users to seamlessly pay for parking through an app, providing people with disabilities a more convenient mobility solution, and furthering Passport’s mission of creating more livable and equitable communities through technology.
This isn’t simply social feel-good policy either; these partnerships can and should be drivers of the multiplier effect whereby government spending itself can fuel local economic growth beyond the intended project or program.
Closing the opportunity gaps within our communities through federal dollars requires a thoughtful partner that is well attuned with a proven model for success. That’s why Passport has developed a model to work across our organization to identify opportunities for local participation and supplier diversity. Now is the time to put these policies into practice through partnerships with local governments and multiply the benefits of federal dollars with scale for the greatest impact.
About the Author:
Kino Becton is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Passport.