A new report released today by the Alliance for a Just Society shows that if Congress acts this summer to fully fund public transit — including operational funds — the Charlotte region would see significant economic and environmental benefits.
For more than 40 years, federal transportation funding has been out of balance, with only a small share going to public transit. This disinvestment has deprived residents of Charlotte of the frequent, reliable, and accessible bus and train service they need to get to work and meet other day-to-day needs. The result is lost job opportunities, a setback in racial equity, and depressed economic activity for the state as a whole.
The disinvestment in frequent, reliable transit blocks economic opportunity for Black residents in Charlotte in particular. Nationally, 60 percent of all public transit riders nationally are people of color, and one-quarter are Black. Black people across the country are more likely than whites to count on buses, trains, and other forms of public transit as their primary transportation option, and are more likely to use public transportation to get to work. People of color who take public transit to work are more likely than their white counterparts to have commutes that take 60 minutes or longer, each direction.
“In the Charlotte area, we know that the need for fast and frequent public transit service is particularly high in the so-called ‘crescent’ of north, west, and east Charlotte neighborhoods where fewer people own cars and jobs are less abundant.” said Shannon Binns, Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte. “We’re encouraged to see that the current high-frequency bus routes are within the crescent. Charlotte area residents need more frequent and reliable service across this area and across the system. This report shows clearly that a significant investment by the federal government would increase economic opportunity, racial equity, and help address the climate crisis. We need Washington to act, and fully fund transit. We cannot afford for them to miss this opportunity.”
This summer, Congress has an opportunity to make an historic investment in public transit, including funding to put more buses on the road and more trains on the tracks. With $20 billion in annual transit services funding, Congress can help reduce wait times, increase bus and train frequency, expand service, promote racial justice, and tackle climate change.
Today’s report shows how increased federal investment could spur service increases ranging from 40 to 184% percent across North Carolina’s major metropolitan regions, including Charlotte, Asheville, Concord, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Hickory, Myrtle Beach – Socastee (NC-SC), Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.
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