Moving forward with rail and transit
Rail and transit are keys to clean, equitable transportation
Public transit, freight rail, and passenger rail offer a number of important benefits, including cutting pollution from transportation, increasing energy efficiency, reducing traffic congestion, improving economic competitiveness, and helping to address transportation inequities. Among other things, increasing the speed, reliability, service levels and quality of transit and passenger rail allows people to shift from vehicle trips to alternatives that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants while reducing pressure to build new highways. Similarly, shifting freight from trucks to rail can substantially reduce pollution, congestion, and the need to add new highway capacity. Transit and passenger rail can also promote more compact, vibrant communities.
In addition, providing cleaner alternatives to driving helps address equity issues, both by reducing the disproportionate pollution burden and health impacts imposed upon low-wealth communities and for communities of color by providing greater access to jobs and services to those who cannot afford a car or are unable to drive.
For too long, public transit and passenger rail have not been seen as a viable option for most people, and road projects received the lion’s share of taxpayer dollars spent on transportation while the scope and quality of rail and transit service suffered. Yet public support for improved and expanded transit and rail service is strong, and the interest of public officials is growing.
SELC works at the federal, state, metro, and local level, and with community partners, to promote policies, projects, and funding that increase and improve rail and transit service. We support free or reduced-fare transit; encourage walkable, transit-oriented communities in cities, towns, and urbanizing areas; and work to secure funding for transit solutions tailored to more rural areas.
Regionally, our work in recent years has helped achieve significant reforms such as establishing dedicated funding for passenger rail, increased transit funding, and improving ways to determine which transportation proposals receive funding. We must build upon these successes to keep our region moving forward.