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Americans Say 'Yes' to Taxes for Public Transit; Presidential Candidates Echo Public Support

As the 2016 election season enters its final three months, APTA and the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) released the results of a recent poll that shows the majority of Americans support using tax dollars to create, expand and improve public transportation in their communities, underscoring the public’s ongoing support for expanded access to public transit.

Approximately 73 percent of respondents said Congress should increase the level of federal spending on public transportation infrastructure, results that reflect a multiyear trend where nearly three-quarters of Americans consistently support such investments.

In addition, the two major presidential candidates have expressed support for increased investment. “Both of the presidential candidates are talking about the need for infrastructure investment to meet a growing demand from the public,” said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall. “This poll shows that American voters understand that an investment in public transit is a vital part of our national infrastructure.”

APTA noted that the candidates are focusing on the capacity of infrastructure investment to positively affect the middle class in providing jobs and creating access to jobs.

“We appreciate that the candidates have acknowledged the important need for public transit infrastructure investment,” said Richard A. White, APTA acting president & CEO. “Congress and the administration took a good first step last December as they authorized long-term surface transportation investment that included public transit. However, we must address the public transit industry’s $86 billion backlog of state of good repair needs. In addition, it is essential we continue to expand public transportation because a robust system creates jobs and helps our communities grow.”

APTA leaders say this strong public support could bode well when Americans go to the polls on Nov. 8 and have the opportunity to vote for public transit funding by approving 27 state and local ballot initiatives nationwide, potentially resulting in approximately $200 billion in new investment.

“As a nation, we have neglected our public transportation infrastructure for decades, and many public transit systems are playing catch up,” White said.  “The time has come for strong, ­decisive action. We must address the industry’s tremendous maintenance backlog. There is a need to invest $43 billion a year as opposed to the $17 ­billion we currently receive to expand, improve and upkeep our ­public transit infrastructure.

“This strong investment will be crucial as we address the projected explosion of population growth in our cities and suburbs,” he added. “We look forward to working with the administration, Congress and local elected leaders to tackle the chronic underfunding of investment in our nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.”

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