President Biden’s ‘American Jobs Plan’ makes a down payment on a clean and just transportation future for all Americans. The Washington State Legislature must take it further.
Washington State legislators must pass a transportation package that meets the moment and creates a clean and just transportation future for all.
Yesterday, in his American Jobs Plan rollout, President Biden proposed an $85 billion boost of federal investments in public transit funding in recognition of the essential role it plays in local communities. Biden’s plan would “double federal funding for public transit, spend down the repair backlog, and bring bus, rapid transit, and rail service to communities and neighborhoods across the country.”
The plan recognizes the imperative to clean up our system by investing in electric vehicle charging, electric transit and school buses, and domestic EV manufacturing. The plan also calls on Congress to spend $115 billion on repairing bridges, highways, and roads and spending $20 billion on road safety measures for users of all transportation modes.
A fact sheet released by the White House notes that these investments “will mitigate socio-economic disparities, advance racial equity, and promote affordable access to opportunity.” These measures, if adopted, would help modernize transit funding for the 21st century, benefiting communities, workers, and local economies. The Biden Administration’s plan is a small down payment for the large-scale investment in the clean and just transportation infrastructure we need.
The Washington State Legislature must go further
Right now, the Washington state legislature is considering passing a 10 to 16-year transportation investment package. We call on our state legislators to pass a transportation package that builds on and expands the direction the Biden Administration has set. Our state must go further by passing a statewide transportation package that prioritizes our communities’ health and safety, create stable jobs, and reduces climate pollution.
Washington state is currently facing tens of billions of dollars in transportation investment shortfalls, after decades of failing to adequately invest in high-quality public transit and accessible communities. The influx of much-needed federal transportation infrastructure spending must not supplant the vast need for additional state-wide investments to make our transportation system more equitable. It is essential that state leaders make vital state-wide investments in safety, accessibility, transit service, and sustainable multimodal options for everyone, and build on the momentum coming out of the other Washington.
Washington State legislators must pass a clean and just transportation package for all
Washington’s transportation sector creates 45% of our carbon footprint. Continued investment in the status quo including building new roadways will only increase our reliance on cars – and the pollution, congestion, and traffic fatalities that come with them. We can make headway on climate and increase transportation access if we shed our roads-as-usual approach and focus on strategies proven to reduce emissions.
Washingtonians need more and better alternatives. We need robust investments in public transit throughout the state; safe and connected sidewalks and bike networks; a fast transition to clean fuels and electric vehicles, and to maintain the vast system of roadways we already have. We also need to further address climate and air pollution by investing in electrifying vehicles on the road, including freight, garbage trucks, drayage, and more. Investments in mobility options and clean transportation offer us the best return. Not only are these strategies good for the environment, they’re good for people, especially low-income, communities of color, elderly, and disabled folks.
We’re encouraged by President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and call on Washington state legislators to take it further by passing a transportation package that brings us a step closer to a safe, more equitable, and people-centered transportation system that works for everyone. We can build Washington back better. Let’s strike a deal on transportation – but make it a sure bet for a clean and just future for all.