The draft strategic plan accurately points out that our public transit systems suffer from chronic under-investment and that we need to meet an increasing demand for public transportation. Transportation investments to date have produced an inhospitable landscape for low-income people, people with disabilities, seniors, and many people in rural areas. People of color are disproportionately disadvantaged by the current state of transportation. Nineteen percent of African Americans and 13.7 percent of Latinos lack access to automobiles, compared to only 4.6 percent of Whites. Racial minorities are four times more likely than Whites to rely on public transportation for their work commute. The cost of car ownership, underinvestment in public transportation, and a paucity of pedestrian and bicycle-accessible thoroughfares have isolated urban and low-income people from jobs and services. Because many people with disabilities do not have the option to drive cars, lack of access to other modes of transportation disproportionately harms them as well. Similarly, seniors and people in rural areas often have limited transportation choices.
Public transportation investment decisions are also significantly related to access to job opportunities for communities reliant on mass transit. An expansion of public transportation funding is necessary to support the reliance on public transportation and the number of people living outside city work centers. Since 2009, 85% of transit systems have either cut service or raised fares or both. Dedicating transit investments for operating purposes will help stop the fare increases and service cuts and allow for more bus and rail service on existing lines, fare reductions, and free transfers.