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Members Testify: Public Transportation Transforms Communities

As the Senate considers options to replenish the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund before Congress adjourns for its summer recess in August, two APTA members provided first-hand accounts of public transit’s power to transform communities in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on ­Housing, Transportation, and Community Development July 22.

Testifying were Joseph ­Calabrese, chief executive officer and general manager, Greater ­Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, and Lee Gibson, executive director, Regional Transpor­tation Commission of Washoe County (NV).

Calabrese credited the city’s 2004 public transit investment in BRT (now called HealthLine) with jump-starting the “tremendous resurgence” in Cleveland.

“We promoted BRT as a new mode that was not a bus, and not a train, but the future,” he said, noting that the HealthLine’s FTA New Starts grant has leveraged more than $5 billion in development along its corridor.

Calabrese also cited an Institute for Transportation Development Policy study that found the BRT showed a return on investment of $114 for every $1 invested.

Gibson testified that several RTC projects are enhancing livability in the region by creating jobs and expanding economic development. RTC invests more than $350 million a year in regional street, highway, and public transit projects, programs and services, he said.

He stressed the importance of ensuring the Highway Trust Fund has enough resources for future needs; the need for improvements in funding bus maintenance, purchases, and facilities; and significance of streamlining federal regulatory and permitting processes to avoid potentially costly construction delays. The RTC system has an annual ridership of almost 8.5 million.

Photos by Jordan Smith
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