Public Transportation is a Key for Economically Successful Communities

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The month marks the 58th anniversary of federal support for public transportation. The success of public transportation can be traced back to one of the late President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefiting many Americans today. On July 9, 1964, he signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law. Subsequently this has resulted in the investment over time of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.

The Putnam County public transportation system, for example, has benefited by over $114 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (previously known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration), going back to the 1970s. A majority of the Putnam County bus capital program, including buses, paratransit vehicles, bus garages, fueling stations, fare collection equipment, bus shelters, bus stop signs and other support equipment necessary to run the system were all paid for primarily with federal funding.    

Millions of Americans today utilize various public transportation alternatives. They include local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single-occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars thanks to President Johnson.

Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation alternative.

The ability to travel from home to workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical appointments or the library is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100 percent dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students and low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York office.  

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