Access to Affordable Transportation
 
Transportation Equity
 
Transportation equity is a civil and human rights priority.
Access to affordable and reliable transportation widens opportunity and is essential to addressing poverty, unemployment, and other opportunity goals such as access to good schools and healthcare services. 
However, current transportation spending programs do not equally benefit all communities and populations.  And, the negative effects of some transportation decisions - such as the disruption of low income neighborhoods - are broadly felt and have long lasting effects.  
Providing equal access to transportation means providing all individuals living in the United States with an equal opportunity to succeed. 
 

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) is a grassroots network of more than 350 community organizations in 41 states working to create an equity-based national transportation system.

TEN seeks to meet the challenges of current crises in the economy, energy security, and climate change by building healthy, equitable communities and providing equal public transportation access to all.

Our goals include:

More transportation-related jobs for disadvantaged people;

Increased funding for mass transit;

Greater community participation in transportation planning and funding;

Growth that is mart and equitable, serving the needs of the poor, the working class, the middle class and people of color.

 
FACTS: 
 
Every $1 billion invested in public transportation capital/operations creates or supports: 36,000 jobs, $3,6 billion in business sales, and nearly $500 million in federal, state, and local tax revenues.
Economic Development Research Group
 
Low and moderate income households spend 42% of their total annual income on transportation, while middle income households spend less than 22%.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey 
 
Nearly two-thirds of all residents in small towns and rural communities have few if any transportation options: 41% have no access to transit and another 25% have below average transit services.
American Public Transportation Association 
 
Nearly 20% of African-American households, 14% of Latino households, and 13% of Asian households live without a car.
Brookings Institution and UC-Berkeley, Socioeconomic Differences in Household Automobile Ownership Rates 
  
Transportation is a crucial link to ensuring opportunity for all, connecting us to schools, housing, healthcare, grocery stores, and, most importantly, jobs.  But millions of low-income people and people of color live in communities where quality transportation options are unaffordable, unreliable, or even nonexistent. 
 
Source: http://www.civilrights.org/transportation/ 
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Public transportation is a necessity that we often take for granted. In the same way that systemic issues are often overlooked in the fight against poverty, we have forgotten to look at the implications of poor and failing transportation systems. These improvements are a matter of convenience and efficiency for many Americans, but when we bring social and economic justice into the conversation, we see that the failings and successes of public transportation can have a disproportionate impact on working and low-income individuals.
 
Access to just about everything associated with upward mobility and economic progress—jobs, quality food, and goods (at reasonable prices), healthcare, and schooling— relies on the ability to get around in an efficient way, and for an affordable price. When a person’s access to physical transportation impaired - whether in cost or physical location - it makes the process of doing simple things such as getting to work on time much more difficult, if not impossible.

Many individuals use public transportation because they have no alternative choice. Buying a car or living close to one’s office or place of work are out of the question for many who struggle financially. In turn, individuals are left at the whim of local transportation authorities.

Bus stops [are] in disrepair, providing inadequate shelter from precipitation or severe cold—a problem that is exacerbated by the book’s finding that even in cities that allow for digital tracking, bus arrival and departure times are often erroneous, leaving people to wait for untold periods of time. And thanks to overcrowding and inadequate space for things like grocery bags or bikes, once a bus arrives, passengers often can’t manage to get on. 
 
These conditions not only hamper one’s ability to plan for everything from job interviews to doctor’s appointments, but force many residents to trade both fiscal and social capital for lengthy and inconvenient commutes. As a result, the difficulty of climbing out of poverty is only exacerbated.
 
Public transportation only works if it’s convenient and affordable.” For low-income households in our communities, it seems to be neither. Unfortunately, the policy world has paid little attention to just how big of an issue failing public transportation systems are. Education and jobs are often cited as the key to overcoming income inequality, while the means to achieving either of these goods remains overlooked.
 
Our government and local leadership have a responsibility to practice diligent oversight of the systems it runs and operates, including transportation. Rather than wait for crisis to arise, we need to begin to address accessibility issues, because they are affecting the poor here and now. We need to be concerned with the massive losses of productivity that occur on a daily basis - and not just when we face severe weather. As justice seekers, we need to find better solutions.
 
Areas with little to no public transportation share a high rate of poverty and the reason is clear: individuals are virtually stranded from the jobs that they need. As justice seekers, it should be understood that the solutions to the problems at hand will not have a standard solution, but one as diverse as the cities and towns across our country.
 
Public transportation is truly an overlooked justice issue of today. As we seek to be champions for our neighbors as they look to rise out of poverty, we cannot forget that they need a physical means of doing so. If we aim our advocacy at accessibility and equality, we will begin to see real change in the well-being of our communities. 
 
   
 
Update May 2019