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Where can elected officials
find common ground?
Transit fits both a broader and narrower definition of infrastructure,
which, as we all know, is supposed to be the most bipartisan issue of all.
t press time, negotiations between the White House and members of the Republican party
on an infrastructure bill are not looking pretty. This is typical and expected of any large
proposal with a potentially massive price tag. For those of us who will be directly impacted
- and, with infrastructure, that would mean every American - the wait, the slinging
of accusations about the hold up in negotiations and general " swampiness " of it all can
result in frustration.
At a May 21 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki described negotiations in the following
way: " ...this is the act, the art, I should say, of seeking common ground. "
If officials need common ground, they should look no further than public transit.
Transit is designed to move people, but these systems can do much more than that. Different modes are
effective in various sized communities. Transit can help address the nation's equity issues, economic issues
and climate issues. The caveat with this being that any investment should avoid pouring additional money into
historically bad decisions.
We were provided a solid example of the bipartisan nature of infrastructure, and specifically transit, when
the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure published a full list of projects elected officials
submitted as Member Designated Projects for consideration in an upcoming surface transportation bill.
Both parties submitted more than $2.2 billion in requests for 343 transit projects. Close to 10 percent of the
transit projects were submitted by House Republicans. There were a handful involving projects in areas where
transit is an obvious mobility choice, such as U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) submitting two requests for
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority to make grade-crossing
safety improvements and station improvements and U.S. Rep. Beth Van
Duyne (R-TX-24) submitting a request for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Silver Line Track Improvement Project.
What drew my attention were the requests on behalf of projects that
...transit provides
common ground
because it truly is
for everyone.
would benefit transit users and operators in the less obvious places. U.S. Rep.
Don Bacon (R-NE-02) submitted two projects for the Transit Authority of
the City of Omaha, including transit center upgrades and preparation for zero-emission
buses. U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS-02) submitted a request to
help fund Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority's bus replacement efforts
and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) submitted two requests that would
benefit two Illinois transit providers: Connect Transit in Normal and the
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Urbana.
While lawmakers are working to advance project funding, transit agencies
are simultaneously making progress on demonstrating why transit is a
reliable and resilient community service worth investing in. After all, transit
provides common ground because it truly is for everyone.
Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor
  224-324-8532
6 | Mass Transit | | JUNE 2021


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass_Transit_June_2021

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