February 14 is just days away. It’s the day President Obama introduces the FY12 budget request. With all of the recent talk about rebuilding America’s infrastructure during the State of the Union - but without the specific plans yet being outlined - we’re all waiting to hear what we can expect for funding. And it also means February 15 is when the House is expected to begin days of debate on the FY11 continuing resolution, which is funding the extension of SAFETEA-LU. With the Republican ‘Pledge to America,’ and a goal of reaching $100 billion in cuts, there is a lot of speculation of where cuts will be and how much really will be cut. Reading a blog by USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, he points out something that those in the industry know: the transportation sector is a great opportunity for adopting environmentally friendly practices and creating good jobs in the process. He also talked about Capital Area Transit’s new operations and bus maintenance center in Raleigh, N.C., that he and Administrator Peter Rogoff visited. A LEED-certified facility, it’s a sign of the sustainable standard of transit. And, it represents good jobs that were required to construct the new center; an expanding transit fleet with more buses running; and more North Carolinians using transit, which translates to less foreign oil and lower emissions. This week I had the opportunity to lift the front end of a locomotive. OK, that may be a little misleading. It was a fiberglass nose for a train made by Fiber-Tech Inc. … not quite as big as an entire locomotive or nearly as heavy. Our team at “Mass Transit” visits transit agencies and suppliers to transit when ever the opportunity arises so we see the diversity in company sizes and we have the chance to talk one-on-one with employees at various levels that provide for our industry. Fiber-Tech is just one of the companies we’ve visited and we had the opportunity to tour their facility to see where and how they design and produce custom fiberglass composites. Cutting spending is something the government keeps stressing. But they are also stressing job creation. And when I visit agencies or suppliers, it always reminds me of why it’s so important for our legislators to be invited to visiting these companies. You telling them what you do is one thing, but for them to see first hand the people working and the technological advancements and sustainability our industry promotes, it gives them a clearer picture of what we can do for the economy. This also reminds me of two great graphics put together by the American Public Transportation Association: a bus schematic and a train schematic showing where the jobs are across America. People, including elected officials, see a single bus or a single train and never realize how many companies, how many jobs, go in to that one vehicle. What we do makes a difference, so don’t forget to promote what it is you do for all of our benefit.