Stuck With Bad Transit Options? There’s an App for That.

The next time your subway car is overcrowded, or your train is delayed, or your bus is bogged down in traffic, you can access a direct line to your members of Congress and let them know you’re not gonna take it anymore.

If you tell your members of Congress you're stuck, be specific about how they can unstick you. Image courtesy of BAF

Building America’s Future, a lobbying group for more federal infrastructure spending, just released their new app, “I’m Stuck,” designed to help constituents sound off to their representatives about their frustration with the state of U.S. infrastructure.

New York City bicycle advocate Joanna Oltman Smith joked on Twitter that the “‘I’m Stuck’ gripe app should auto-disable for drivers ‘stuck’ where transit options exist.” BAF’s call for more infrastructure spending is devoid of that kind of nuance. More roads, more transit, more repair funds, more broadband — they want it all. The app sends a broad message to Congress that Americans want more spending without being very specific about how or where or for what.

Luckily, the app does provide space for users to supply those details in an “Add Description” field.

That’s key, since you can’t trust Congress to take the right action, even if they do take action. So, enlightened drivers can write in, “I’m stuck in traffic and I wish I had better transportation options so I could get out of my car and take the train instead! Increase transit funding!”

Marcia Hale, president of BAF, says they hope users will push for more transit if they don’t think building lots of highways is the answer to the traffic jam they’re stuck in.

Without a note specifying otherwise, lawmakers could easily take commuters’ frustration to mean that they want roads expanded — and that’s not a real solution to traffic congestion.

The app isn’t just for drivers, however. Transit riders can signal their frustration with creaky rail systems or unreliable buses. And though there isn’t an explicit option for bicycle and pedestrian frustrations, that’s what the “other” category is for, if you ask me. If you just got sideswiped and you’re angry about poor safety and the lack of dedicated bicycle facilities in your town, tell your congressperson! No sidewalks? Register your complaint! They’re not your city council members — they’re not going to address the particular problem on your particular street. But they should know that their constituents want federal funding for all modes of transportation, not just driving.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future, told reporters this morning that he hopes the app will be “a permission slip from the American people” giving lawmakers political cover for spending more money on infrastructure. Let’s hope that permission slip comes with an asterisk, indicating that the American people want that money spent wisely, on infrastructure that will make us and our communities safer and healthier.

You only have to enter your personal information once and the app will figure out who your representatives are in Congress. Marcia Hale, president of BAF, emphasizes that they don’t intend for people to use the app while they’re driving — a message pops up when you open the app warning you not to.

  • Alex Knight

    I’m not a fan of this app. The first specific example they give on the site is “not enough lanes on your local highway”. I see this as being a tool for road widening advocates to bolster their cause by channeling people’s unfocused frustration rather than trying to explain the more complex challenges of induced demand. Sure you’ll get some folks who will ask for better rail and transit, but this thing doesn’t appear to have much practical use beyond allowing people to vent and ask the government to spend, spend, spend on infrastructure which in most cases will likely end up being highways.

  • ¤ People driving cars have no business using this app. Nor any app, duh.

  • I see this as being a tool for road widening advocates to bolster their cause by channeling people’s unfocused frustration rather than trying to explain the more complex challenges of induced demand.

    All the more reason for transit riders and smart growth supporters to use the app. Drown out the motorheads.

  • Anonymous

    I would guess that “Building America’s Future” is lobbying for increased construction spending. It probably doesn’t matter to them whether they get money to build a $2B highway or a $2B subway as long as it employs construction workers. I doubt they have an agenda beyond that. Use the app and use it for what you think money should be spent on.

  • Joe R.

    I’d like to add a choice for bikes-“delayed by red light or stop sign”. If this one gets selected enough, there might be some pressure to start using roundabouts or other types of intersection treatments which don’t insert random, pointless delays into trips.

  • In an environment where some members of Congress want to completely defund peds and bikes in the transportation appropriation, it is important that peds and cyclists use the app and spell out what they need so that their elected officials hear from more than just car drivers.

  • Rich

    How about “Car broken down/gas too expensive,” “Car/trash can blocking the bike lane,” or “Traffic conditions making biking dangerous”?

  • Rich

    And of course, using this as a tool to lobby for improved biking conditions 😉

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