The Chair of the Platform Drafting Committee
The Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Members of the Platform Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to share our priorities as you develop the 2016 Democratic Party platform. We encourage you to embrace policies that spur economic growth and opportunity for Americans by building and properly maintaining the infrastructure our country needs to be competitive in the 21st Century global economy. Growing the investment in American infrastructure is a proven and effective way to support U.S. jobs and enterprise today and for decades to come.
Public transportation supports Main Street businesses by expanding employer access to labor, improving market access for small businesses, and increasing property values. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 billion in economic returns and supports more than 50,000 jobs, the vast majority of which are in the private sector. The positive economic benefits of investment in transit are both immediate and long-term. Current spending on public transportation in the U.S. supports almost 1.5 million jobs.
- Transit spending supports private sector jobs, with 73 percent of government funding flowing to the private sector.
- APTA has proposed a plan for more than $100 billion in federal public transportation investment over six years, roughly doubling federal spending.
- In the final year, the plan would generate $66 billion in business sales and $81 billion in GDP and would support 1.1 million jobs, mostly in the private sector.
Transit is a lifeline for middle income and working class Americans who depend on safe, reliable transportation options to get to work, school, medical appointments, and other critical services. Public transportation is sometimes the only viable option to meet the mobility needs of many seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.
Public transportation impacts American households’ bottom line. Every month APTA produces a Transit Savings Report which shows that Americans can save about $9,500 annually by utilizing transit rather than driving. The savings can be higher in the nation’s growing metropolitan regions. Public transportation reduces congestion to save millions of hours in travel time and millions of gallons of wasted fuel to improve the environment and quality of life for Americans.
Policies that have led to deferred maintenance – and innovative, unfunded projects that cannot move forward – have been a drag on the economy for too long, resulting in lost job opportunities for millions of Americans. Too many communities have been unable to adequately fund maintenance for the public transportation systems that they depend on. The Federal Transit Administration estimates that a one-time investment of $86 billion is needed just to bring the nation’s public transportation systems into a state of good repair. That figure doesn’t include new systems and extensions needed to serve population growth and projects that create increased capacity on existing systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that deteriorating transit systems cost the U.S. economy $90 billion in 2010 alone.
To better address these challenges we need a federal policy that supports sustained, dedicated revenues for investment in public transportation, as well as roads and bridges. Revenues into the Highway Trust Fund – the principle funding source for the nation’s public transportation, highways and bridges – is woefully short of what is needed to even fund current investment levels. Existing dedicated federal revenues have been inadequate for many years, resulting in inefficiencies, increased costs, and reduced options for local transportation planners. Failure to meet this challenge is unacceptable when demand for public transportation is increasing. Transit passenger miles of travel have increased 21 percent since 2004, far outpacing population growth of 9 percent over that period.
As you develop the Democratic policy platform, we urge you to support greater investment and more stability in federal funding for transportation infrastructure and public transportation. We need to ensure that we invest in a transportation system that serves people and economic growth in communities throughout the nation while reducing harmful emissions. We cannot afford to let these valuable public assets deteriorate, or experience the congestion, delays, waste, and unnecessary costs that can be avoided with properly maintained infrastructure assets. Please feel free to contact Mark Hybner of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at 202-496-4865 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information or have questions about public transportation generally. Thank you for your attention to this vitally important issue.
Richard A. White
APTA Acting President & CEO