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Dear Congress… PLEASE Pass a Long-Term Transportation Bill Now

Congress needs to develop and pass a long-term authorization and funding bill before the short-term bill expires next May. [PHOTO: Sam Newman]
On July 31st, Congress approved legislation to avert the insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which provides funding for federal transit and highway programs. This short-term or “patch” bill provides approximately $10.8 billion in revenues to the HTF and extends the authorizations for federal transit and highway programs funded from the HTF through the end of May 31, 2015.

This means that Congress still needs to develop and pass a long-term authorization and funding bill before the short-term bill expires next May. In the meantime, your help is needed to keep the pressure on Congress to pass a comprehensive, long-term transportation bill – especially one that supports a stronger commitment to improve public transportation across America.

Take action:

Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and tell them to pass a long-term bill that provides increased, predictable funding for federal transportation programs. You can generate a letter to your Congressional delegation here external link

And please, share this with your transit-loving friends!

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Help Protect Funding for the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Communities’

The U.S. House of Representatives just stripped funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership next Thursday. NOW is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.The U.S. House of Representatives just stripped funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership next Thursday.

NOW is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.

These are tough economic times, which makes it even more important to keep the innovative programs that put federal dollars to good use rebuilding our local economies, strengthening our communities, and creating necessary jobs.

Earlier this year when the Partnership was under threat, your voices made a real difference and funding was preserved. Now we need your voices to be heard even louder.

Tell your Senators: Protect funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.external link

Make sure that Congress knows we will not accept shortsighted cuts that sacrifice the health of our communities.

From connecting affordable housing with jobs to turning dilapidated lots into vibrant downtown centers, the Partnership is making a difference in our communities, where we are hurting the most.

Please tell your lawmakers not to take away crucial opportunities for our communities.external link

This is the time when we need your voice the most. Thank you for all that you do.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces $293 Million for New Transit Solutions, Economic Development Nationwide

Project Selections Will Expand Obama Administration’s Livability Initiative Agenda, Fuel Economic Recovery for Local Communities

The Federal Transit Administration announced Thursday that Charlotte was one of six U.S. cities to get streetcar grants. One-half mile of track is already in place on Elizabeth Avenue near uptown. [PHOTO: TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com]

A $293 million investment announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood means that residents in dozens of communities nationwide will soon enjoy major transit improvements, including new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities.

The nearly $300 million investment is part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. It is being made through two competitive grant programs, the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.

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John Robert Smith in Rochester

*Cross Posted by the Moderate Urban Champion

John Robert SmithMembers of Reconnect Rochester had a unique opportunity Monday afternoon.  We were invited to sit in and participate in a roundtable discussion featuring representation of the Genesee Transportation Council, the Empire State Passengers Association, the Rochester Rail Transit Committee, and the keynote speaker of that evening’s lecture, John Robert Smith.

Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.

Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.

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Rochester’s Case for a Streetcar Line

The following article was published at RochesterSubway.com on 2010/02/16. Two weeks later 6 citizens got together and Reconnect Rocheseter was born.

Photo simulation of a new Rochester streetcar on Main Street.

America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.

There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.

For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.

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