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Protect What Matters: Transit Success

A Transportation System

A transportation system, as defined by Science Direct, is a system partially defined by functional requirements—what the system must do—and by nonfunctional requirements—attributes of the system.

A transportation system includes moving parts, like cars, buses, trains, and bicycles. It also includes non-moving parts like roads, sidewalks, traffic lights, transit stops, signs for wayfinding, and technology for more efficient movement of people.

But of all the parts in a transportation system, transit is the backbone, the workhorse, of any functioning transportation system.

Which is why the Transit Alliance is working to build support for funding transit. For too long public transit, an essential public service, in Nashville has been embarrassingly underfunded.

Other cities and regions are waking up to the reality that investing in public transit is an investment worth making. We must be willing to change the way transit we perceive investments in transt.

The days of reducing public transit’s viability down to its number of riders are gone. Public transit is an essential public service that keeps the city thriving.

It broadens the reach and access to economic mobility, it can help cities reach goals of equity, environmental sustainability, and improve health outcomes.

Read more to see what some other cities are doing to support funding transit and enhance transit services.

Nashville’s New Transportation Plan — WIN!

This is not a comeback from the failed referendum. This is the beginning of something new.

It comes with a strategy to leverage opportunistic funding, which isn’t ideal, but it is a great plan to kickstart Nashville’s future. When all the projects in the Transportation Plan are in place, the quality of life for many will significantly be enhanced.

This is a safe, some say conservative, plan for shoring up transportation infrastructure that is woefully behind–which is necessary to take a bolder, more confident step toward the city we already are: future-facing, creative, ready to continue growing sustainably with deeper roots of prosperity while protecting the children, environment, and soul of Nashville.

This plan is how we get to the next step.

What else can we do?

Transit goes beyond the bus. It relies on strong and healthy land use and zoning policies to create high capacity corridors–think the main Pikes, Charlotte, Murfreesboro, Gallatin, etc.

Transit also relies on safe passages to the bus and/or train. This means that our sidewalks and bus stops must be in good repair and clearly marked.

Supportive Policy

Recently, Portland, OR, passed a landmark low-density zoning law to help support building better density. Building density supports effective transit. By allowing up to four homes on any residential lot, Portland blazes a path toward building the elusive ‘middle density’ zoning.

Ballot Wins

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, transit has proven an essential tool for cities. When all but essential workforce were to remain at home, public transit continued to connect essential workforce to their jobs and others to the essentials like grocery stores and health care. So, it should come as no surprise that transit won big at the ballot in 2020. Here are some stories about those wins.

APTA – “In communities across the country, voters on Tuesday continued to voice their overwhelming support for public transit by approving 15 out of 18 measures supporting public transit. Last night’s results add to the 32 public transit measures already passed by voters this year, bringing this year’s total to 47 out of 52 wins for public transit, a 90% win rate.”

Mass Transit – “The big measures this year were innovative and collaborative and represent an approach to development that extends beyond mobility alone. The measures, and the campaigns themselves, talked to voters about equity, cleaner air and water, economic growth, and support for frontline and essential workers –a message and approach that was met with applause.”

PEW Trust – “Far fewer people are riding buses and trains during the COVID-19 pandemic, but in this month’s election voters still approved more than a dozen proposals to increase spending on public transit.”

STREETSBLOG MASS – “Election Roundup: Transit Wins in Austin, Seattle, and Bay Area”

The Transport Politic – “This page provides an overview of major elections related to transportation in the U.S., that will occur on November 3, 2020. Major referenda for transportation for voters to approve and major mayoral and gubernatorial races are detailed. As results come in, this page will be updated. Note: The tables are easier to visualize on desktop/tablet.”

Austin, TX, KUT 90.5 – “The expansion includes two new light rail lines, a new commuter rail line and a new bus rapid transit line that would run in its own right-of-way so it doesn’t mix with traffic. A new downtown transit tunnel would also be built. The plan includes three new MetroRapid limited stop bus routes, as well as more park-and-rides and neighborhood connectors.  

The plan also includes $300 million in investments to prevent people from being forced out of their homes and neighborhoods by potential development sparked by new transit stops.” 

San Antonio, TX, VIA – “Advanced Transportation District (ATD) Proposition A passed Tuesday with 68% of voters approving the measure that will rededicate a 1/8-cent share of local sales tax for public transit, beginning in 2026. This is not a new tax. It reallocates a portion of an existing 1 cent of local sales tax made available for transit use by the Texas Legislature.”

Seattle, WA, Seattle Times – “Proposition 1 showed voters were willing to spend during a coronavirus pandemic, which slashed ridership more than 60% at King County Metro Transit. Alex Hudson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition, said supporters ran a bold, “values forward” campaign that shows people yearn for better mobility and infrastructure.”

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