Safe, affordable transportation choices are a cornerstone of healthy communities. Public transit, quality pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure can connect residents without vehicles to jobs, schools, and other critical services. Multimodal access to public transportation supports physical activity and reduces the most significant contributors to health-harming pollution and global climate change. All communities, including communities of color and low-income deserve to enjoy the benefits of a quality transportation system.

With a commitment to equity and a focus on results, we can build a transportation system that truly works for all.

Unfortunately, generations of systemic racism and exclusion have concentrated freeways and other polluting transportation infrastructure in low-income communities and communities of color, while at the same time limiting investment in critical public transportation and pedestrian infrastructure that could have a transformative impact on the lives of residents.

Over the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have exacerbated all of these issues. Shelter-in-place orders encouraged businesses to keep their workers home, causing transit systems’ ridership and revenues to plummet. With limited emergency funding, many public transit agencies are still scraping by or making painful choices to eliminate routes, cut services, or shut down entirely. Those that can continue to operate struggle to address challenges around passenger, worker, and driver health and safety.

Tackling these problems won’t be easy, but with a commitment to equity and a focus on results, we can build a transportation system that truly works for all of us.

Here are five ideas to get us started:

  1. Promote healthy, safe, and inclusive communities by investing in affordable transportation options and climate-resilient infrastructure. 
  2. Ensure fair access to quality jobs, workforce development, and contracting opportunities in the transportation industry. 
  3. Invest equitably and focus on results.
  4. Empower community leaders to meaningfully shape transportation decisions that impact their lives. 
  5. Reimagine safety to prioritize programs and strategies that actually keep communities safe.

Read the full article about transportation equity by Brad Wong at Independent Sector.