While public transit continues to be a lifeline for millions of Americans, too many transit agencies nationwide are failing with upkeep and modernization efforts and thus experiencing system failures. That isn’t just my opinion — the American Society of Civil Engineers gave transit a grade of D- in their 2017 report card.
The demand for public transit services remains near an all-time high and that popularity, combined with meager federal and local funding, is leaving passengers stranded at the station and the bus stop. They are left yearning for better and more reliable service. That is no way to run a commuter transportation system.
The employees that keep our transit systems running in the face of punishing austerity budgets are becoming collateral damage. They face job cuts. They are too often the victims of physical or verbal assaults and not enough is being done to stem this alarming trend. And they are seeing too many of their customers — many of whom barely get by in this economy — struggle as vital services are cut and debilitating fare hikes are implemented. This saddles cities and states with growing worries about how to pay for much needed investments.
The people we elect and send to Washington need to start worrying too. They need to start getting aggressive about shoring up cash-strapped transit agencies that have been victims of too much austerity, for too many years.
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