Nov 29 2017
Communities of all sizes—cities, suburbs, and rural areas—can suffer from transportation “deserts”—places where the only way in and out of the community is by car, and where residents are often cut off from easy access to other parts of their city or region due to the impractical design of road and highway infrastructure around the area.
Transportation deserts lead to limited mobility for many of the people who live in them, and communities located inside transportation deserts often become victim to economic blight and the many societal ills that accompany it.
Limited mobility means a limited life. It cuts people off from jobs, education opportunities, services, and community connections.
Public transit agencies work hard to fight transportation deserts, despite having to work with limited budgets and conflicting infrastructure priorities in many communities. In recent years, we’ve seen many innovative strategies emerge that are striking a blow against these deserts and improving mobility for at-risk communities.
Public transit systems are locally operated, allowing them to respond to local needs. While the federal government provides critically important funding, local systems and regional transit authorities (RTAs) set priorities and guide projects to meet the needs of their communities. Below are some great examples of how these systems fight to restore mobility to areas that qualify as transportation deserts.
Public transit systems in every part of the country should have the opportunity to close mobility gaps by implementing new ideas, leveraging emerging technologies, and expanding services. Reducing transportation deserts improves people’s lives and strengthens communities, which ultimately benefits everyone through stronger economies, reduced burdens on taxpayer-supported programs, and more.
Public transportation has been making progress in recent years — and Congress should support this momentum. We need big thinking and smart funding from federal leaders, not a retreat from investing in our transportation future.