On the heels of the Obama administration’s introduction of the GROW AMERICA act - the first federal transportation authorization bill to be introduced in a decade - it seems that everywhere we look, we’re talking transit. Whether you’re a rural farmworker in North Dakota or an urban dweller in Atlanta, interested in public transit’s ability to promote empathy or curious how new mass transit affects rental prices, an avid urban biker or excited about the age of the self-driving car, the evolving landscape for transit is a hot issue and is likely going to affect you–whoever, and wherever, you are.
Transit is an issue of great concern for government at the municipal, county, state, and national level. With such a broad base of interest and attention, transportation is no longer a siloed issue of concern unique to Departments of Transportation or transportation wonks. This growth in engaged stakeholders certainly presents challenges, but also presents opportunities for unprecedented innovation and collaboration. How will the public sector capitalize on the momentum–political and civic–and develop innovative approaches to transit challenges in this country? And more importantly, will these approaches target low-income communities, who have arguably the most to gain and to lose, in the transit conversation?
As we continue to chew on the question posed in our co-hosted blogging event earlier this month (how can we better connect residents to opportunity?) and reflect of the many answers that came in, it is clear that transit is key in this conversation. As a major determinant of not just physical, but also economic and social mobility, a lead indicator in health outcomes, and indeed a symbol of democracy in action, transit has the potential to be a great disruptive force in the growing inequality in this country. And in a time of unprecedented attention being given to the issue, there is no better opportunity to harness the momentum towards more equitable planning for a transit infrastructure.