by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor
July 9, 2020
Invest in America Act
1. Invest in America Act
State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges. Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.
Congress is currently debating the Invest Act. The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use. Four highlights of the Invest Act are,
- States would get more money to end traffic violence. Thirty percent increase in road safety funding and sixty percent increase for bike lanes and sidewalks. These percentages seem like a large increase but it must be noted that funding for these categories was small, to begin with. It will be imperative to monitor and influence the way these funds will be spent. Organizations like Mile High Connects, Denver Streets Partnership, Bicycle Colorado, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and citizens like you will be essential to ensure monies are spent properly.
- Departments of Transportation would have to fix existing roads before building new ones. This issue may not appear to be a primary issue for someone who does not own a vehicle. However, inter-connectivity across older roads, i.e. sidewalks, bicycle paths will help eliminate communities from being separated.
- Congestion pricing is a tool that governments will be looking at closely. Charging drivers during peak traffic periods may become a benefit to transit riders. Some of the restrictions on using congestion pricing are that the jurisdiction cannot charge transit vehicles. Roads designated for congestion pricing would also have to have a low-income alternative for the same route, i.e. bus, train.
- The act will provide 8.3 billion dollars to lower the carbon footprint. One of the efforts is to expand the use of E-Vehicles by building more infrastructure to support it. Debates have already started whether this is a good investment. Most planners who have been trying to lower the use of single-occupancy vehicles are against filling up our roads with E-vehicles. In the advent that the population of E-vehicles increases our community must ensure that the product is accessible.
Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision. He wanted to reimagine RTD. In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?
- Meetings started shortly after his announcement. There were an enthusiasm and large participation for the first two meetings. Unfortunately, the pandemic, sliding economy, and civil unrest redirected the group to focus on service cuts to insure that RTD could survive financially. The group is assisting RTD in dealing with financial realities, safety concerns, and unrealistic expectations that were placed on the organization two decades ago (trains, trains, trains).
- No doubt, there will be service reductions for the district. There will be an emphasis on maintaining and improving the remainder of the district after cuts to service.
- One of the structures we are trying to maintain is the Access-a-Ride. Under current policy RTD only provides service ¾ mile from fixed routes. If routes are to be eliminated or shortened we must insist that AAR remain active in those areas.
3. RURAL TRANSPORTATION
The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles. Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public. A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.
- Rural communities must recognize the importance of keeping their citizens mobile. Investing in local transportation helps maintain a healthy community and economy. When local dollars are used to support transportation, those dollars stay in the community.
- If you identify a small start-up carrier or a struggling transit system in your area start campaigning for local dollars to be invested into them.
That’s all I got to say about that.
CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information. We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.
- Attend your local meetings if possible.
- This includes City Council Meetings or County Commissioner meetings.
- These government bodies are required to have virtual meetings so that you can participate.
- Start a conversation.
- You will be surprised how many elected officials are waiting for good input from you.