Report Highlights Innovative Public Transit Systems

Transportation leaders from both houses of Congress on April 23 welcomed a new report for showcasing a new generation of innovative transit systems.

The report is timely because the six-year federal transportation bill, which sustains transportation initiatives like these transit projects across America, expires September 30, and will be the subject of near-term congressional action. The report, Reinventing Transit: American communities finding smarter, cleaner, faster transportation solutions, 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. It also provides case studies of more than a dozen of these transit innovations. Transportation—primarily cars and trucks—accounts for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

The Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Matthew J. Welbes and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Portland, Ore., spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference/ Webcast to unveil the video and written version of the report.

"Reinventing Transit makes the case that reinventing the transportation bill to fund transit innovations in Minnesota and nationwide will deliver new jobs, new connections to jobs and economic development for communities of all sizes," said U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, who ironically missed the news conference because he was stuck in Washington, D.C.'s notorious gridlock. "Given our economic and environmental challenges, 'business as usual' transportation investments are not good enough. Reinventing Transit sets the standard for transit investments in the upcoming transportation bill to fuel America's economic recovery."

Brief case studies of 10 of the innovative public transit systems highlighted in Reinventing Transit include:

  • Chicago, Ill.: The McDonald's CycleCenter is an essential part of MillenniumPark, with 300 secure indoor parking spaces for bicycles, showers, lockers, bike repair services, and solar panels.
  • Connecticut: Statewide van pool service for commuters that offers more than 300 routes transporting 3,000 riders daily and even goes into New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
  • Kings County, Calif.: Van pool service that ensures access to schools, jobs, and medical services and reduces air pollution in this heavily polluted, yet very rural San Joaquin Valley.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.: Bus rapid transit that connects the residents and employment centers of San Fernando Valley with the end point of LA's main highway in North Hollywood, and reduces traffic.
  • Manassas/Prince William County, Va.: Flexible bus route system that uses modern global positioning technology to pick up passengers up to ¾ mile off route in this exurban area.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.: Operating on highway shoulders reconstructed for bus use, Metro Transit riders can safely zip past stalled traffic, saving people time and frustration.
  • Mobile, Ala.: Shuttle service that picks up people at home and brings them downtown and back.
  • Orlando, Fla.: Bus rapid transit system that has helped spur development of five new downtown office buildings (each 1 million square feet) and six new apartment communities.
  • Eugene, Ore.: The bus rapid transit line called EmX features hybrid buses with a dedicated bus lane and a partnership with local universities and schools to provide low-cost service to students.
  • Portland, Ore.: Streetcar system serves 13,000 riders daily, cutting traffic, pollution and spurring economic development and a new local industry manufacturing streetcars at Oregon Iron Works.