Now that the elections are over, we can all collectively exhale and begin to assess what may actually happen as opposed to what could happen. My meaning is that now that we're done hearing about the worst case scenarios, we can open our eyes and embrace the realities that the elections have brought.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), voters in 14 states approved 22 measures out of 30 state and local public transportation-related ballot initiatives, authorizing nearly $500 million over the next five years. That's good news, and the support for public transportation continues the trend that we've seen over the last few elections. This year alone, public transportation-related ballot measures had a whopping 77 percent or, 43 out of 56, success rate for a total of more than $1 billion.
Bad news comes in other areas, however, such as in Wisconsin where incoming Governor Scott Walker, who campaigned on stopping the area's $810 million Amtrak Hiawatha line extension, will seemingly get his way. There is also the matter of the Republican party gaining majority of the House of Representatives, while Democrat control of the house will shrink, though, by how much is yet to be determined, with some races still too close to call.
What the switch in the House and Senate means is that it may actually become tougher for public transportation to continue to secure federal funds, with the likelihood of reauthorization impossible, at least in my novice opinion. One possibly positive thing is that during the so-called lame duck session, which is set to commence November 15, SAFTEA-LU will probably be extended yet again.
My biggest concern, however, is how quickly the tide may turn in terms of the favorable treatment public transportation has received by the feds over the last two years. With the Obama Administration holding on to a handful of accomplishments, including healthcare and a plan to increase the presence and stature of public transportation, it is clear, at least in the words of the new likely Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), that the Republicans are set to go after the progress that has been made to continue to paint Obama as a weak President with wayward goals.
So, while public transportation measures continue to win funding at the state and local level, how do you think the tug-of-war on Capitol Hill will impact its future?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.