Earlier this month, County Connection proudly participated in a national event called “Stand Up For Transportation” (SU4T). This national event , held on April 9, was organized and sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) with the goal to highlight and emphasize just how important transportation infrastructure is to the United States.
County Connection, along with over 20 other Bay Area organizations, participated in a joint event at the temporary Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to lend our voices to the day-long, national outcry to congress demanding long-term investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure to keep America moving forward.
Why was SU4T necessary? Because investment in all transportation is at record lows, when accounting for inflation, going back to before the 1950s. Yet, our economy and our daily lives have never depended more on our various transportation systems than they do now. Meanwhile, other countries, like China, are building new transportation systems at a breakneck pace.
Beyond building awareness, SU4T events specifically called out federal leaders with the demand that they address the unacceptable lack of investment in transportation by passing an overdue reauthorization of a federal transportation bill with adequate funding before the current federal transportation funding bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), expires on May 31.
Imagine if the nation had not invested in the interstate freeway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Imagine if we had not invested in BART in the 1960s and 1970s. Those things were not built to last forever. All of these transportation systems are in dire need of full replacement. The sad truth is we don’t have to imagine anything. The daily drive down our local streets and roads is already an exercise in dodging potholes, avoiding traffic backups, and the need for meditation tapes! After all, being late for work puts you at risk economically, as does paying for costly repairs to your car when you have to drive down streets of disrepair.
This is to say nothing of our struggles to keep up with demand for additional transportation options and opportunities. We are essentially relying on the same levels of transportation services as we did in 1990. Yet, population and job growth have been extensive. We need to find ways of increasing transportation services and facilities.
How did we get to this state of disrepair and stagnation with respect to transportation? Well, like anything of this magnitude, there is no one single reason. However, our financial investment has dwindled significantly. This is a main part of the problem, as we can’t build or maintain any transportation facilities or services for free. They all cost a lot of money.
Federal investment in transportation peaked in 1993 and has been steadily eroding ever since. This is because the funding source of the federal investment is the federal gas tax (or excise tax). This tax has been at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 and in today’s dollars, buys much less than it did then. Therefore, the net result is less investment in transportation.
If you believe that our nation’s highways, streets and roads, public transit, and airports, etc. need to be improved and better maintained, then you too can join County Connection and scores of others that “Stand Up For Transportation”! Write, call, or email your Congressperson, and let them know that adequate federal investment in transportation is vital to your quality life and your economic well-being.