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May 11, 2009

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AROUND THE INDUSTRY

EDF Report Showcases Innovative Public Projects

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) showcases 11 innovative public transit projects throughout the U.S. in its new report, Reinventing Transit: American Communities Finding Smarter, Cleaner, Faster Transportation Solutions, which it released April 23 on Capitol Hill. Federal Transit Administration Executive Director Matthew Welbes joined speakers including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Aaron Klein, representing Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), at the launch.

“Public transit is an ‘indicator species’ for the health of a community,” Welbes said at the event, pointing to the current historically high ridership levels on board U.S. transit systems with “cleaner vehicles and greener facilities.” He emphasized how providing transit service is a partnership between the federal government and state and local municipalities, and said that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood “wants to ensure that Washington does not supply transit systems with one-size-fits-all solutions.”

The report cites transit innovations already operating in 45 metropolitan, suburban, and rural communities in 30 states across America that are creating jobs, cutting traffic congestion, and reducing air and global warming pollution. The 11 case studies cover topics that include the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s flexible suburban bus routes in Prince William County, VA; LYNX’s Bus Rapid Transit service in downtown Orlando, FL; and Bikestation’s bike transit centers in California, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington.

“Transportation has been part of the problem, but this report shows how it can be part of the solution,” said EDF Executive Director David Yarnold. “People used to believe it was impossible to grow the economy and shrink the carbon footprint at the same time, but with new technologies, we’re seeing that isn’t true. The next challenge is to innovate nationally, then take the innovations down to the local scale.”

Blumenauer echoed Yarnold’s remarks. “Our national transportation policy should be supporting exactly the kinds of innovations found in Reinventing Transit,” he said, “so innovative transit technology is not an exception, but a routine occurrence in communities of all sizes.”

Detailed case studies of the transit projects cited above, case studies of three other transit projects, and the video or print version of the report can be found online.

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