Transportation leaders from across the country met March 11 in Washington, D.C., to kickoff the Getting America to Work (GATW) coalition. The coalition of transit agencies, councils of government, environmental groups, labor and business organizations is dedicated to finding innovative solutions to funding America’s transit infrastructure and the $78 billion spending backlog needed to bring the country’s transit systems into a state of good repair.
“The future of public transit in America is at a crossroads,” said GATW member and Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Joe Costello. “Constrained state, local and federal budgets have made it difficult to keep up with maintenance and replacement of even existing transit assets like train cars, buses stations and bridges. We are coming together to shine a spotlight on the anemic state of capital funding for transit and move it up on the national agenda.”
At the kickoff event, GATW members coordinated their advocacy efforts, shared information and discussed policy principles designed to provide Congress with clear direction on how to better support America’s transit systems.
“Public transportation — from big city subway systems to small town bus networks — is one of the backbones of this nation’s economy,” said Jeff Nelson, general manager of Rock Island Transit. “More predictable funding, increased federal investment and continued tax incentives for transit users are all actions Congress must take. We face yearly funding challenges to keep our vehicles reliably transporting riders to their jobs and back. If our buses and trains break down, so will our local economies. Congress needs to take action.”
GATW already has 49 member organizations and continues to grow. By focusing on educating riders, elected officials and the media on the facts and data that demonstrate the growing need for more transit funding, GATW expects its coalition to grow and increase pressure on Congress to act.