9. INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE

To Achieve Justice and Climate Outcomes, Fund These Transit Capital Projects

To Achieve Justice and Climate Outcomes, Fund These Transit Capital Projects
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To Achieve Justice and Climate Outcomes, Fund These Transit …  transitcenter.org

To Achieve Justice and Climate Outcomes, Fund These Transit Capital Projects

Transforming Transportation Infrastructure for Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction

For too long, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) and State Departments of Transportation (DOT) have provided funding to transit projects that aim to attract white-collar workers, rather than prioritizing the largely Black and brown riders who use and depend on reliable public transit. This could change with the once-in-a-generation investments available through the Biden Administration’s climate framework, Justice40, along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This marriage of unprecedented funding and an equitable framework provides an opportunity to transform transportation infrastructure, support the climate, and right historic injustices. Our network of transit advocates, organizers, and riders are calling on their local transit agencies and state DOTs to advance projects designed to improve the mobility of Black and Brown riders whose opportunities have been compromised by decades of transportation planning designed to primarily benefit more affluent white communities. In turn, we call on FTA to fund these projects.

Transformative Projects on the Horizon

Over the past year, TransitCenter has been surveying advocacy partners across the country about what capital projects could make the biggest impact for climate and equity. Some of the projects our partners compiled have been partially funded, though some haven’t received any funding. We would like to see money from the IIJA fully fund these projects. While there is more money available for transit capital projects than at any time in history, 80% of IIJA money will be funneled to state Departments of Transportation through the Federal Highway Administration. States typically spend this money on expanding highways, despite having the ability to spend it on other transportation needs. To meet climate and equity goals, we need to see states shift this money towards transit capital projects such as these.

Among the projects outlined in the spreadsheet linked above, three stand out for their potential to reshape transportation in their respective cities.

Los Angeles: Regional Connector – Bridging the Gaps

The Regional Connector project in Los Angeles, which opened in June of 2023, was designed to connect two transit lines, creating a frictionless journey for riders traveling across the region. Unfortunately, the three Regional Connector stations in downtown Los Angeles project opened without the approved plans for improving walking and biking connections in place. The essential first/last mile component of the project would dramatically impact the safety of passengers who use the system, and this downgrade signaled that cars are still the priority in Los Angeles. LA Metro and the FTA can right this misstep with future funding decisions, and advocates in Los Angeles are working to see them follow through on their promises to their constituents.

“The Broadway Station is an important center for the Latino community, and the Little Tokyo Station is a hub for the Japanese-American community in Los Angeles. Having good connectivity and safe streets; good walking and biking connections means that transit becomes a real option instead of defaulting to driving,” explains Eli Lipmen, Executive Director of Move LA.

New Orleans: East/West Bank BRT Project – Uniting Communities

New Orleans doesn’t currently have any bus rapid transit infrastructure. That could change with the proposed East/West Bank Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which would provide a direct connection between the city’s east and west banks through a high-quality transit corridor. This initiative would not only provide a swift and reliable transportation option but also connect neighborhoods across New Orleans. Local authorities and transit agencies, along with community advocates, will be pivotal players in driving this project forward.

Courtney Jackson, the Executive Director of the local advocacy group Ride New Orleans, explains that “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) implementation has the potential to fundamentally shift the transportation environment in New Orleans. It will improve outcomes for many residents by enhancing job, education, and amenity access. It has the potential to fundamentally shift the narrative of transit as an inferior alternative to vehicle ownership by demonstrating the utility of high-quality transit service implemented with supportive infrastructure. It also has the potential to enhance the walkability of downtown New Orleans by reducing personal vehicle travel to downtown, also leading to reduced congestion.”

For New Orleans’ transit riders, the BRT project could be life-changing, granting riders better access to job opportunities, healthcare services, and education.

Philadelphia: Roosevelt Boulevard Subway Project – A Long-Awaited Overhaul

The Roosevelt Boulevard Subway Project reimagines mobility in Northeast Philadelphia. The project envisions transforming the corridor into a thriving transportation hub, increasing the mobility of nearly 500,000 people. The idea for a Roosevelt Boulevard Subway has been around for over a century, but funding has been the primary barrier to realizing this vision. With federal support, this ambitious endeavor could finally come to fruition.

Roosevelt Boulevard is known as the “most pedestrian-hostile street in the city,” and the project could fundamentally alter the urban landscape for the better. According to Jay Arzu, a champion and advocate for the Roosevelt Subway, Northeast Philadelphia is cut off from transportation options. “The Northeast feels like it’s on an island because there isn’t a direct subway connection.” The Roosevelt Boulevard Subway would mean a safer and faster transportation route for Northeast residents. Arzu’s sentiment was echoed by Will Tung, a volunteer organizer with 5th Square, Philadelphia’s urban political action committee. Tung says that “the subway project would be transformative. It would cut commute times, make the street safer for pedestrians, and reduce pollution.”

Making the Dream a Reality

Each of these projects shares a common thread—making urban transportation work better for current riders and Black and brown communities. However, their success hinges on the allocation of IIJA funds and the collective commitment of local and federal stakeholders.

The impact of these projects goes beyond the improvement of transit systems. They offer hope for a future where public transportation is more than just a means of getting from point A to B. It’s a way to create equitable opportunities, reduce environmental impact, and foster stronger communities.

As advocates for just and accessible transportation, we call on state and local officials to seize this opportunity. The IIJA has laid the groundwork; now it’s time to take action. By directing funds to projects like the Regional Connector in Los Angeles, the East/West Bank BRT in New Orleans, and the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway Project in Philadelphia, we can correct past mistakes and allow communities across the country to thrive fully.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13: Climate Action

The article discusses the need to prioritize the needs of Black and brown riders who rely on public transit, improve transportation infrastructure, address historic injustices, and support climate goals. These issues align with the Sustainable Development Goals mentioned above.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • SDG 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.
  • SDG 10.2: Empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all.
  • SDG 11.2: Provide access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all.
  • SDG 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.

The article emphasizes the need to develop reliable and sustainable transportation infrastructure (SDG 9.1), promote social inclusion and reduce inequalities (SDG 10.2), provide accessible and sustainable transport systems (SDG 11.2), and integrate climate change measures into transportation planning (SDG 13.2).

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Percentage of transportation funding allocated to projects benefiting Black and brown communities.
  • Number of transit projects funded that prioritize the needs of Black and brown riders.
  • Improvement in walking and biking connections in transit projects.
  • Reduction in personal vehicle travel and congestion in downtown areas.
  • Increase in access to job opportunities, healthcare services, and education through transit projects.
  • Reduction in commute times and pollution through the implementation of transit projects.

The article implies these indicators as measures of progress towards the identified targets. These indicators assess the allocation of funding, the prioritization of marginalized communities, the improvement of infrastructure, and the positive impacts on accessibility, environment, and quality of life.

Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure Target 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure – Percentage of transportation funding allocated to projects benefiting Black and brown communities
– Number of transit projects funded that prioritize the needs of Black and brown riders
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities Target 10.2: Empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all – Percentage of transportation funding allocated to projects benefiting Black and brown communities
– Number of transit projects funded that prioritize the needs of Black and brown riders
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Target 11.2: Provide access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all – Improvement in walking and biking connections in transit projects
– Reduction in personal vehicle travel and congestion in downtown areas
– Increase in access to job opportunities, healthcare services, and education through transit projects
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning – Reduction in commute times and pollution through the implementation of transit projects

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: transitcenter.org

 

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