Pulse on the SWTA Nation
June 16, 2016
By: Kristen Joyner, Executive Director
I had the privilege of hearing Secretary Anthony Foxx speak yesterday at NCPTA’s annual meeting for public transit professionals.
Secretary Foxx dramatically spelled out exactly what ails the transit industry and what we must do in the coming weeks and months to cure ourselves and secure a hopeful future for public transportation in our communities across America.
Symptom 1: Perpetuating the idea that people in urban areas don’t care about the rural rings around the metropolis and highway-focused people don’t care about those serving in transit. Continuing within our industry to focus on the splits as opposed to the solutions, keeps us in victim mode instead of telling our unique and powerful stories to force change.
CURE: “Tell the story, over and over, that a strong Federal investment helps rural and urban areas JOINTLY.”
Symptom 2: Transportation is very jurisdictional. Think about how many counties, cities and MPO’s one must travel through to go from Guthrie, OK to Oklahoma City, OK for dialysis, Love Field in Dallas, TX to Arlington, TX to see the Cowboys play or a trip to the VA in Albuquerque, NM from Española, NM. Transit project priorities get broken up and the effectiveness lost.
CURE: “Regions need to figure out a way to work together. I’m looking for regions that have figured out how to work together for great regional transit solutions.”
CURE: “Think bigger and think TOGETHER”.
Symptom 3: Under investment in transit. (Well, Mr. Secretary, we all knew that!) He said, “If the strategy is to under invest in transit, then the country is meeting that goal“. He further stated that we can expect population growth of 70 million people in the coming census, with the majority of those moving into southern and south west states. That coupled with the growing aging population, increased need for dialysis transportation and the coming dementia tsunami (SWTA’s opinion) and the fight between transit or freight, we are losing ground.
CURE: “A strong transit strategy equals a strong freight strategy”.
CURE: “Transportation (Transit) is still a Bi-partisan issue. Educate your delegation regarding game changing investments in surface transportation.”
Symptom 4: Waiting for Superman (or woman) to save the day!
CURE: “Be the Superman (or woman) and THINK – How can we put a system into place, regardless of Congress or the State?”
Finally, Secretary Foxx made the most important point of the day,
“Look at the Surface Transportation System as one unified system that benefits ALL.”