PolicyLink CEO on Senate’s Passage of Transportation Bill “MAP-21″
The following is a statement from PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell on the Senate’s passage of “MAP-21″ transportation bill last week.
”The Senate recently passed Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) by a vote of 74-22. This is the first major step toward passing a surface transportation reauthorization. It is indeed an accomplishment that the Senate Bill was able to garner bipartisan support to release it from the partisan gridlock that so characterizes Congressional debates.
“However, the Senate was given an opportunity to set a new course for transportation investment that could respond to the economic inequality we face today and set forth new innovative policies for tomorrow that would allow all Americans to participate and prosper. Unfortunately, the Senate did not take full advantage of this great opportunity.
“Overall, MAP-21 is a mixed bag. It maintains current funding levels, an accomplishment in this tight fiscal environment, and it establishes a few minor reforms in the areas of public transit, bicycling and walking programs, and bus/rail fare increase protections. However, it does not represent the transformational surface transportation authorization that our nation needs.
“MAP- 21 does not provide disadvantaged workers with critical career pathways into transportation jobs. It does not go far enough to protect low-income people and communities of color from potential discrimination in transportation plans and projects. The bill lacks the “teeth” to force state and local decision-makers to choose transportation projects that would bring benefits to distressed communities.
“Congress should aim higher when crafting the final bill to be presented to the President for his signature. The reauthorization should embrace smart, equitable policy proposals like those that were championed by a host of equity advocates and several Senators.
“Millions of struggling Americans depend upon our transportation system to provide affordable, reliable, and safe options for traveling to work, school, and medical care. They deserve a transportation bill that connects them to opportunity and meets the needs of those who have been left behind. MAP-21 does not represent the best for our nation today, or for the decades ahead.
“Looking ahead, as Congress works toward finalizing a new authorization, our leaders in Congress and the Administration must understand that there is more work to be done to ensure that the next surface transportation bill is the fair, just, and equitable roadmap to the future that America needs and deserves.”