||COVERAGE OF THE 2016 APTA ANNUAL MEETING
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Transit Investments Can Transform Communities
Before investing in their communities, public transit agencies must ensure that all customers will benefit, transportation consultant Beverly A. Scott said at a Sept. 12 session she moderated, “Transforming Lives and Communities: The Power of Transportation Investment.”
“Just because we make an investment does not mean it will lead to equitable results,” said Scott, chief executive officer, Beverly Scott Associates (People and Communities Matter), and a past APTA chair. “We must ensure that our investments actually ‘lift all the boats’—jobs, healthy outcomes and livable communities.”
Phillip A. Washington, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Metro, and past APTA chair, emphasized the “national emergency” of too few current workers qualified to build and maintain transportation infrastructure.
“We can create a new middle class through infrastructure building and rebuilding,” he said, citing Kinkisharyo’s construction of a plant in Palmdale, CA, to build railcars for LA Metro and sending employees to Japan to learn skills.
“This is not a social program, it’s an economic development plan,” he added.
Patrick J. Scully, member of the APTA Executive Committee, outgoing chair of the Business Member Board of Governors and executive vice president, sales and marketing, Motor Coach Industries, recognized bus and rail manufacturers for “a good job creating jobs for the communities they serve.”
He warned, however, that communities and companies must make sure one region’s new jobs don’t come at the expense of another.
Dorval R. Carter Jr., APTA Executive Committee member and president, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), talked about the need to provide more jobs throughout the nation.
“The U.S. was hemorrhaging jobs as the economy became more global,” he said. “How do we bring those jobs back? How do we do it and provide inclusion? We need to provide pathways to long-term sustainable jobs.”
Carter noted CTA’s successful Second Chance Program that allows ex-offenders and others facing barriers to employment to learn job skills and build a work history. Another agency program allows Chicago public school students with B averages or higher to attend community colleges free for two years.
Stephanie J. Jones, DOT senior counselor to the secretary and chief opportunities officer, reported on the department’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative, which creates partnerships that lead to good transportation jobs while incorporating community input.
Kristian Mendoza, an employee of the Kinkisharyo railcar plant mentioned by Washington, said he had been unemployed for two years after leaving the U.S. Marine Corps when the manufacturer contacted him.
“Workers at the plant can take care of their families and work close to home. That makes the American Dream a reality,” he said.
Elizabeth Bunn, organizing director, AFL-CIO, cited the importance of the U.S. Employment Plan, created by the Jobs to Move America coalition and approved by DOT, in building and rebuilding an infrastructure workforce.
|Panelists, from left: Kristian Mendoza, Elizabeth Bunn, Dorval Carter, Patrick Scully, Stephanie Jones, Phillip Washington and moderator Beverly Scott.|