SELC and NC partners call for immediate transit funding
At a virtual transit forum, SELC joined Sustain Charlotte and the National Coalition for Transit Justice to urge Congress to invest $32 billion to keep buses and trains moving and commit to clean and equitable transit for all. Speakers described how COVID-19 is impacting riders’ access to reliable transportation and discussed support for making public transit more sustainable.
“At the height of the pandemic, we saw firsthand how critical a strong transit system is for many in our community, including for our essential workers,” said U.S. Representative Alma Adams (NC-12). “The need for a strong regional transportation system will continue long after COVID-19 is gone. Essential workers still need to get to work. Residents still need to be able to access each opportunity that our great region offers. And in Mecklenburg, that means being able to wake up in Matthews, work in Charlotte, get ice cream in Davidson, and travel to the Charlotte Douglas Airport without ever having to get behind the wheel.”
We want to be sure that when we’re building a resilient transportation system, we are also ensuring that it is inclusive. This is an opportunity to fix an important aspect of systemic racism and environmental racism that have existed across the Southeast for too long.Kym Hunter, Senior Attorney
SELC and partners are asking Congress to provide $32 billion in immediate relief to avoid massive cuts to bus and train service lines across the country, and to invest in transit as a centerpiece of clean infrastructure and other recovery packages.
“Right now, transportation is the leading cause of climate change in the United States, surpassing the power sector,” said SELC Senior Attorney Kym Hunter.
“We want to be sure that when we’re building a resilient transportation system, we are also ensuring that it is inclusive,” she added. “This is an opportunity to fix an important aspect of systemic racism and environmental racism that have existed across the Southeast for too long.”
Nationally, people of color represent 60 percent of riders. Buses, light rail, streetcar, and special transportation services (STS) are essential for ensuring that people of all races, backgrounds, income levels, ages, and abilities can move and thrive. In addition, investments in transit provide essential economic stimulus, with every $1 billion invested in public transportation supporting and creating more than 50,000 jobs.
Congress is set to introduce a new infrastructure package in 2021. Lawmakers view an infrastructure bill as a way to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and accelerate the recovery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. received a grade of a D+ in its Infrastructure Report Card. The report estimates it would cost $4.6 trillion over the next decade to upgrade the country’s network of roads, bridges, and ports.
The forum included the following participants: Representative Alma Adams, Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eislet, Town of Davison Mayor Rusty Knox, Charlotte Resident Sherri Thompson, Charlotte Family Housing Executive Director Pedro Perez, and SELC Senior Attorney Kym Hunter.
A video recording of the full event is below.