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.

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