Will President Obama Speak for the Transit-Starved Tonight?

President Obama is expected to make a strong push for infrastructure spending during the State of the Union address tonight. Ahead of the address, the Transportation Equity Network organized its members and supporters to write to President Obama, telling their personal stories of why transit funding is crucial to their communities. In all, TEN will deliver 1,000 personal letters to the President asking him to support transit investments. A few have already been sent.

sotuHere’s a sampling:

Lisa T. in St. Louis wrote:

As a high school teacher, I see how our less-than-adequate public transportation system impacts low-income families who do not have dependable personal transportation. Students and families who do not have cars are not able to participate in parent conferences, open house events, and extracurricular activities.

Jan H. of Montana wrote the president about how her hometown has been changed by car culture:

When I was a girl, there were two trains a day: east to Chicago and west to Spokane. Now, there are nothing but freeways clogged with big trucks.

Ann E. in Washington State told the president about the importance of transit accessibility:

I use an electric scooter to get around because treatment for bone cancer has limited my range for walking. Last fall, I went to visit my daughter who lives in Philadelphia. We were able to board the outbound trains to the suburbs using a special ramp but on our return trip we found that the station didn’t have the necessary ramps.

Please include funding in your 2012 budget to make public transportation practical for all who wish to use it.

John C. of Oakland, CA, wrote that transit service is an economic lifeline for working people:

In Oakland, we want expansion of mass transit to include eco passes to provide free mass transit for junior and high school students.

Nancy H. from Wisconsin, wrote about the transit issues in her area:

Funding for transit is a necessity where I live in Racine, WI, located between Milwaukee and Chicago. Anyone without a car must deal with limited bus routes that don’t reach many of the places in the county where jobs are located. Getting from Racine to neighboring communities by bus is impossible in most cases.

For the Racine community to attract new businesses there must be dependable, networked transportation.

Robert Kelly, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 308 in Chicago, wrote the president about how transit spurs job growth:

With a staggering set of issues before you, it is easy to understand that some domestic issues might not make the top of your priority list when you have to deal with crisis after crisis. A renewed federal commitment to urban mass transit is an issue that absolutely affects the lives of millions of Americans every single day, the environment and your Administration’s commitment to grow jobs.

Mary J. in St. Louis wrote about her years without access to transportation:

Many years ago I lived in a rural area and had no ready access to a car. My mother and I would “flag down” a Greyhound bus on a nearby road to get to town for groceries, to attend church, and to visit family. Today, living in suburbia, I have a car, but no buses come near my house.

In Los Angeles, Pariss B. wrote about the importance of the bus system:

Bus operations are important to me because I am a citizen who wants things to get better. Bus fares are high and things are only getting rougher. Times are hard. It’s time for a change.

Maybe, once he reads them, Obama should forward these letters on to House Republicans, who are expected to be a tough audience for his pitch to increase investment to “outbuild” other nations.

5 thoughts on Will President Obama Speak for the Transit-Starved Tonight?

  1. Why is mass transit regulated to the poor and old? Doesn’t the middle class want to save money? I use mass transit in order to cut down on car costs and to chill out during my commute. Is it only poor and old who use transit in New York, Chicago, San Franciso, DC, etc..? No. Seems to me that nobody understands the practicablity of mass transit. Imagine not having to spend $11K a year on car ownership (I just paid $200 this weekend for a tune-up and some fixing at Jiffy Lube). And if people choose to live in suburbia (yes, it’s a choice..cheaper housing means you have less public services available to you, which is surburbia and not the urban area) and not spend the extra cash to live urban…tough. You knew the roads were wider and public transit was few and far between Both the middle-class and lower-class have options in housing.

  2. The President will speak to his core constituency: those rich enough to avoid having their genitals groped because they fly in general aviation aircraft. They will yawn and moan, because the bailout money we handed them wasn’t enough and now they’re upside down on their sixth guest house, and may have to sell off their guest yachts.

    There are tea party fascists that believe that Obamacare and new urbanism are one and the same plot to make us all get the mark of the beast and be a part of the one world government.

    Why would he touch transit at all? Nobody in power has anything to gain from legitimately reforming our transportation system.

  3. Does anyone know the gas mileage of Al Gore’s limosuine? Or James Cameron’s helicopter? Bono’s private jet?

    To: LAofAnaheim – I’m not against transit, infact I think bus transit is very useful as opposed to the expensive light rail and streetcars. Most transit systems are in fact bus systems. There was actually a legal battle [in New York City] over simply legalizing vans for personal transit use. Unlike Airport Shuttle vans which are based on rigid rules that only allow them to take people to & from airports. Overall the mode of choice for low-income people for gettin’ around are used cars. If transit is needed then buses are far more flexible compared to trains, as to destination. If the towns population declines [such as economic depression or just simple migration], you can cheaply & easily augment & redirect the routes to go where passengers live. Said fleet can be downscaled or increased to meet demands. Trains are rigid models built with high minimums in mind, that cant expand unless said solution is building more track at great cost just to carry just a few people.

    You wanna talk new urbanist communities. Try Seaside, Florida [began development in 1981 on just eighty acres], now a tourist attraction and made famous as the perfect community in “The Truman Show”. Or Celebration, Florida… Lots in these places sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars before houses were even built and individual houses can fetch millions. I doubt normal people are gonna live there, even if they wanted to. Another new town; Poundbury, Dorset, England has been disappointing, with surveys showing high levels of car use anyway. Los Angeles is often viewed as an example of “suburban sprawl”, But LA is actually one the densest metropolitan areas in the country [more than New York City ] and the effect of gas prices and building of transit systems ( Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates the third largest public transportation system in the country) has done little to keep cars in garages. LA’s pollution problem is caused and amplified by two factors. Geography and Climate. The mountains hold in the exhaust from cars, trucks, planes, locomotives and factories and the lack of rain keeps it from being cleared away. Many new urbanist developments were built on greenfield lands anyway. Kentlands in Maryland was built on a former farm (sorry Sierra Club). Perhaps close to cities but not within range. Basically appearing like gated communities without the gates, and when affluent people typically move here from the suburbs or cities they leave the poorest behind who otherwise cant afford to move, with reduced public services ( schools, hospitals, police, fire….. ) Not really an ideal community afterall. On the plus side you can walk to work.

  4. Just because one has a system that was designed when people didn’t have cars doesn’t mean the people living there now will drive any less. When people think about transit or life 100 years ago, they conjure up images of old fashioned choo choo trains. But only the wealthy could afford to ride trains like that on a casual basis. And the nickel for a streetcar ride sounds awful cheap today, but only white-collar workers could afford to live in neighborhoods like this and regularly ride those trains.

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