We can’t move upwards if we can’t move at all. Although nearly a third of our district’s workers and families rely on public transit, its inefficiencies force many to take more expensive alternatives they cannot afford. Transportation costs have ballooned so much that the average American spends 14% of their household income on transportation–which, when added to already excessive housing costs–creates a precarious living situation. Lower-income families, in particular, spend a larger proportion of their monthly income on transportation, which in turn increases economic inequality. Further, transportation policy has far too often perpetuated racism and has benefitted contractors and developers rather than the individuals who need it the most. Our government should require every investment in public transportation infrastructure to be forward-looking and to promote equity for all.
We have all experienced Los Angeles traffic at its worst, and this is a result of decades of shortsighted transportation policy and a lack of investment in public transit options. Many of the problems we face on the local level are a result of poor transportation policy at the federal level. The federal government must shift our nation’s priorities away from cars and highways toward expanded public and active transportation options that will get people where they need to go more efficiently and cheaply.
While the increased availability of electric vehicles has helped reduce carbon emissions, that is not enough. Expanding public and active transportation and making it more accessible to all persons will provide the additional benefit of reducing the hazardous environmental effects of our current car-centric society. Adding one more highway lane, another rideshare app, making all existing gasoline-powered cars electric, or slightly faster suburban internet isn’t going to solve the physical and economic mobility problems that come from running our country’s infrastructure well beyond its replacement date.
How We Plan to Do It
Increase Mobility Efficiency and Equity
- Pass the Freedom to Move Act (H.R. 2287) introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, which subsidizes transportation costs for low-income communities and makes transit free for all.
- Fund and implement federal research mobility as a service (MaaS), which would provide a single platform for access to a variety of mobility services, like rideshare, bikes, and buses.
- Co-govern with local communities and community organizations to create tailored plans to increase mobility equity, especially for low-income, disabled, and elderly individuals.
- Prevent the expansion of highways, especially in low-income communities already suffering from the disproportionate effects of vehicle exhaust emissions.
- Repurpose federal funds to prioritize operating costs over construction costs to strengthen existing transportation infrastructure.
Incentivize Alternatives to Cars
- Pass legislation to implement size, weight, and exhaust noise limits of newly manufactured large vehicles.
- Stop freeway expansion nationwide by eliminating the federal budget for new highways and the number of highway permits granted, and instead use these dollars to maintain our existing highway infrastructure and expand funding for mass transit and active transportation construction and operations.
- Create federal programs to publicize and incentivize the use of electric bikes (e-bikes) and bicycles, especially within dense cities with large populations.
- Expand federal funding for local bike lanes to ensure that people can bike to locations safely, bringing down car usage for last-mile transportation methods
- Fully commit to increasing federal funding for interstate high-speed rail projects with Amtrak and other public-private partnerships.
- Assist local governments to electrify local trains and light rail, such as Metrolink. With H.R. 2287, this electrified transit would also be free.
- Reduce reliance on public-private partnerships for new transportation methods, and increase federal oversight on such partnerships, that ensure that average Americans reap the full benefits of public goods like transportation and that taxpayer dollars are not wasted.
Prioritize Cyber-safe Infrastructure
- Mandate periodic security upgrades on publicly vital utilities, so service providers do not put off upgrades for fear of lost profit from downtime.
- Push for internationally recognized cyber conflict standards that ensure innocent civilians and their livelihoods will not be put at risk by nation-state conflict.
Align Transportation Policy with Climate Goals
- Legislate a federal ban on the manufacture of new non-electric vehicles by 2035 to align with California policy.
- Strengthen the enforcement of exhaust noise level limits across the nation through additional vehicle and truck inspections.
- Implement nationwide recycling and reuse programs for used electric car and bike batteries.
- Encourage states and localities to electrify their buses, light rail, and trains with federal dollars.
- Continuously update the Federal Highway Administration’s manuals with the newest research on reducing the effects of highway construction on climate change and prioritizing cleaner modes of transportation such as bikes, scooters, and transit..
- Eliminate the National Environmental Protection Act’s (NEPA) application and approval process for the construction of bus, train, and active transportation infrastructure to reduce the costs of these projects.
- Utilize federal grants to expand studies on air quality and soil-lead testing to ensure that communities split by freeways and major roads can be accurately assessed as superfund sites. Tie federal dollars to the severity of these polluted neighborhoods to ensure proper cleanup, environmental justice, and quality of air/soil improvements
Help us create equitable transportation solutions for the future, and join the movement!
* Policy made in collaboration with Streets For All.