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Opinion: Federal Infrastructure Plan Must Prioritize Transit Investment

The Biden administration must combine increased funding with policies that mandate and encourage transit-oriented planning.
April 20, 2021, 8am PDT | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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Geraint Rowland

The public transit funding included in the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan "would almost double the annual federal contribution to public transportation, which currently accounts for 17% of total transit spending," writes Simon Berrebi for Bloomberg CityLab, but increased oversight and guidance are required to maximize the effects of the spending, increase access and equity, and fight climate change. The plan, which proposes an $85 billion investment in public transit, recognizes that "to expand access to jobs, health care, schools and other destinations that keep the economy running, the key is public transportation, which provides mobility for all while minimizing congestion, pollution and energy consumption."

The new administration's infrastructure package, writes Berrebi, provides "a momentous opportunity to fully integrate transit in a new paradigm of infrastructure planning" and shift emphasis to public transit by prioritizing bus lanes, signal priority, and bike and pedestrian infrastructure as integral parts of transportation projects. "Planning for a transit-oriented future would multiply the social, environmental, and economic benefits of this historic investment."

According to Berrebi, "successful transportation and land-use policies must be planned together," and "the American Jobs Plan is an opportunity to do just that on a national scale." In addition to channeling funding to local transit systems, the administration should also ensure that housing funding is used to "build and preserve units near transit" and that new projects and initiatives "integrate public transportation deeper into the fabric of society."

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Published on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Bloomberg CityLab
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