October 20, 2008
The 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego was a huge success!
Read all about it.
Boxer Ties Public Transit to ‘Reinvigorated Economy’
By ROBERT BRADFORD, for Passenger Transport
Public transportation has an integral connection to the transformation of the American economy, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said during her Oct. 7 keynote address at the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego.
“I believe that highway and transportation are crucial to reinvigorating this economy. You really are in the business of economic development,” Boxer said.
“Right now, we have an economy based on paper. We’ve got to get back to a time where we’re building things in America. That’s what’s going to get us back on track—not an economy built on paper,” the three-term senator continued.
Boxer cited examples of the impact of public transit in communities from New Jersey to Texas and Oregon. “What we’re learning all across the country is, when you have transit in a community, it’s a big plus,” she said.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said she is focused on one on the most pressing issues facing Americans—global climate change. She argued that an expanded public transportation system is an essential part of the overarching strategy to address global climate change.
“We have to have a vision for the future,” Boxer said. “You’re part of that vision,” she told the audience.
APTA President William W. Millar noted that the U.S. produces almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, one-third of which come from the transportation sector. He emphasized that transit must be made available to increasing numbers of Americans so they can have choices about transportation and reduce their carbon emission levels.
“We must allow Americans to leave their cars behind without compromising their mobility,” Millar said. “We’re going to get out of this mess we’re in by millions of people making billions of decisions, and travel is going to be part of the answer.”
Warren George, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, emphasized that the transit workers who belong to ATU have a clear sense of the urgency of new investment in public transit. “Our members understand that the increased use of transit is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.
Calling for increased federal, state, and local support for transit authorities, George called for significant new approaches to encourage the use of public transit, from changing the tax code to give people incentives to ride to allowing transit systems to have more autonomy on how federal funds may be spent.
“We need to change the way we’re doing business,” he said. “We look forward to working with you to fill the great promise of public transit in North America.”
For Bruce Hamilton, deputy executive director of the Sierra Club, partnerships between unions, transit authorities, and environmentalists will be vital to concerted efforts to combat global warming.
According to Hamilton, the Sierra Club’s priority is clear: “The vast majority of our leaders said addressing climate change is our paramount issue. We’re talking about global survival and the moral obligation we have to the rest of humanity.”
Hamilton proposed collective efforts to encourage new investments and legislation supporting public transit. “If you can tell us the next big step we need to take to reduce emissions, we can get our troops there,” he said. “The Sierra Club is ready to fight for you.”