Why should cities invest in transportation? This is one of those recurring questions that somehow manages to both surprise and intrigue us at Circuit. It’s alarming in a way, considering it comes up from smart and well-respected people. However, there are so many good answers that cater to different reasons and audiences. It's a reminder that transportation isn't, and shouldn't be, a polarizing issue. Regardless of where you live, your background, your profession, or your political beliefs, there's bound to be a benefit of transportation that piques your interest.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), “Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $5 in economic returns.” These investments create jobs, stimulate local economies, and have lasting impacts on GDP.
Shared rides (pooling riders that are moving in similar directions) reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs) and the number of Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) on the road. Acronyms aside, fewer cars and fewer miles mean less time stuck in traffic. Who likes traffic?
Growing cities face worsening traffic and parking challenges. Studies show that about 30% of urban traffic stems from drivers searching for parking spaces. Investing in transportation alleviates this strain on city planners, motorists, and local businesses. It's about making cities more enjoyable to live in and enhancing overall quality of life. The best cities will be the ones that get ahead of these issues.
Equity and Access
Many communities lack accessible transit options, making employment opportunities out of reach. First and last-mile solutions bridge this gap, making transit hubs (and jobs) more reachable and housing more accessible. Solving for a short trip can lead to a much larger connection.
At Circuit, our commitment to local employment not only strengthens our services but also boosts local economies. By expanding transportation options, we're not just creating jobs, we're providing access to new jobs.
Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing all other industries in the US. Among transportation categories, passenger vehicles stands out as the primary source of emissions. Cities, responsible for about two-thirds of the world’s emissions, play a significant role too. By targeting emissions from passenger vehicles and reducing the overall number of vehicles on city roads, we're taking a crucial step toward tackling the core of the larger emissions challenge.
Source: United States EPA
Transportation and housing costs burden households, especially lower-income families. With affordable housing often situated in transit deserts, reducing the cost of one often means increasing that of the other. The transportation cost burden hits lower income families the hardest, causing households to spend 30% of their after-tax income on transportation in 2022. Low cost solutions and solutions that connect with public transit can create a huge cost relief for residents. We’ve seen some incredible results of this in our feedback from West Dallas riders.
In a world where agreement seems scarce, transportation investment stands as a topic that many can get behind. Whether it's striving for a greener environment, boosting local economies, or simply making daily commutes more bearable, supporting transportation initiatives is a win for all.
Fortunately, I think more people are realizing this. Many of these issues are getting more attention and more funding (over $140bn/yr). We’ve seen more programs come out to address transportation access, reduce emissions and improve services so we’re encouraged that this trend will continue.
Hopefully soon, we’ll hear more people ask “why aren’t we funding more transportation options?” Finally, something we can all agree on.
At Circuit, we’re just a part of this expansive transportation puzzle, yet a crucial part that contributes to connecting the various elements together. The impact of this puzzle we work on, is one worth celebrating – even if you might have once asked this question yourself.
If you’re interested in learning more about creative transportation solutions to improve your community, reach out to the Circuit team today.