Amalgamated Transit Union’s Lawrence J. Hanley: Public Transportation Investment A “Win-Win” for Equity
This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Lawrence J. Hanley, International President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Click here to read other reflections.
America’s Tomorrow highlights how rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure can be an effective strategy for advancing equity and growth. The win-win argument for investing in public transportation is clear. Public transportation drives not only passengers, but also a region’s economy. Public transportation systems create middle-skilled jobs, provide access to opportunities, increase energy efficiency, and improve environments in and for low-income communities of color. With a well-developed transit network, inaccessible jobs become accessible, businesses thrive, and neighborhoods are revitalized. According to American Public Transportation Association data, every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports 36,000 American jobs.
To leverage this strategy, we must reverse the growing trend of privatization in public transit. Privatization decreases quality of life, and by attempting to run a public system with a private-sector mentality, runs counter to an equity agenda. Public systems are more accountable to the public, and this is critical because public transit is not just for the few; it is for everyone.
PolicyLink also highlights the need for democratic participation. Bus drivers and passengers must have a voice in public transportation. Decisions that affect the livelihood of others cannot continue to be made by out-of-touch politicians. The power needs to be placed in the public’s hands; a public who knows that investment in public transportation and infrastructure will both create jobs and promote equity.