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Grassroots Advocates Speak Out to Representatives on Capitol Hill

What happens when thousands of public transportation advocates send the same message at the same time to members of Congress?

You get Congress’ attention, says APTA President & CEO Michael ­Melaniphy: “When elected officials hear directly from their constituents, it personalizes the benefits of public transportation. These public transit advocates can articulate the positive impact these essential transportation systems have on their lives, their community and our nation’s future.”
Melaniphy is referring to those advocates who have signed on to APTA’s program, Voices for Public Transit, a national bipartisan grassroots movement of advocates who support public transportation and infrastructure investment. Participants in this grassroots effort have sent more than 11,600 letters to ­Capitol Hill, where they were distributed to 531 congressional offices.
Established in December 2013, Voices for Public Transit is a major component of APTA’s national ongoing advocacy campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows.”

Some 76,000 activists have already signed up for Voices at APTA's website for public transit riders and advocates. Once they sign up, they can access a microsite devoted specifically to the program, which offers a petition supporting public transportation investment, an opportunity to share public transit stories, and easy ways to contact Congress. The site also encourages further engagement on social media, at local events, and in local media, along with targeted facts demonstrating the role of public transit in building and expanding communities.

APTA’s larger advocacy campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” has two overarching goals: to broaden support and show the value of public transportation in local communities and throughout the country, and to create a favorable environment for increased investment in public transportation as MAP-21 expires Sept. 30.

The campaign emphasizes direct communications with national and local ­policymakers while building a strong advocate base of public transit ­riders, supporters, and other stakeholders. It also features an integrated outreach effort with emphasis on public relations efforts, advertising, grassroots outreach, and social media tools.

A toolkit available here to public transit professionals and business members provides a variety of campaign resources, such as ads tailored to bus-only, rail-only, and multimodal systems, in formats for print, electronic media, bus shelters, and bus interiors or exteriors. Additional items summarize APTA’s recommendations for a federal surface transportation authorization bill after MAP-21 expires Sept. 30.
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