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E-M:/ National Transportation Alliance Revs Up



Media Release
December 13, 2001

Contacts:
Kelly Thayer, Transportation Project Coordinator        Karen Kendrick-Hands, President
Michigan Land Use Institute                         Transportation Riders United
Phone: 231-882-4723 ext. 13 • Fax: 231-882-7350     Phone: 313-510-8081
Email: kelly@mlui.org • Web site: www.mlui.org         Email: kdkhands@ameritech.net                                        Web site:
www.detroittransit.com
Barbara McCann
Surface Transportation Policy Project, Washington, D.C.
Phone: 202-974-5134 • Fax: 202-466-2636
Email: bmccann@transact.org • Web site:
www.transact.org


National Transportation Alliance Revs Up
Michigan groups among those launching new campaign today in Washington, D.C.

Detroit  - Michigan citizen groups are among more than 200 organizations represented in Washington D.C. today at a gala celebration of public transportation successes and the national launch of a new transportation investment campaign. The campaign, called the Alliance for a New Transportation Charter, will focus on spurring investments in world-class public transit, developing more options for biking and walking, and ensuring new roads fit with community growth plans. The Alliance’s work will significantly affect the next six-year federal transportation law, scheduled for reauthorization in 2003. The effort is directed by the Surface Transportation Policy Project in Washington, D.C.

“Now is a crucial time for local, state, and federal leaders to fully invest in first-rate buses and trains and facilities for safe biking and walking,” said Arlin Wasserman, policy director of the Michigan Land Use Institute. “A wide variety of travel choices is the key to economic competitiveness for both Michigan and the nation.”

Mr. Wasserman joins transit advocates, community leaders, and Smart Growth proponents in Washington, D.C. today to inaugurate the Alliance for a New Transportation Charter. Events include a celebration of significant gains states have made in providing greater transportation options since the passage of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991 and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998. TEA-21 provides $218 billion to states and local communities through 2003.

Michigan members of the Alliance include the Michigan Land Use Institute, Transportation Riders United, the League of Michigan Bicyclists, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. (For a complete list of endorsements, see <www.transact.org>.)

The Alliance for a New Transportation Charter aims to promote public transportation, bicycling, walking, and compact development and thereby:
·       Enhance public health and safety
·       Promote social equity and a higher quality of life
·       Sustain economic prosperity
·       Protect the environment while saving energy

Due in large part to the funding flexibility of ISTEA and TEA-21, America has slowly started to shift some of its focus away from road building and toward rail and rapid bus systems, as well as bike and pedestrian options. However, America’s transportation policy remains in need of considerable improvement. Of the $50 billion in federal funds available over the last 10 years for all transportation choices, for instance, states and local communities were willing to direct only $3.3 billion to trains, buses, or other alternative modes of travel. This and other national data is now available in a comprehensive report STPP released Wednesday, called Ten Years of Progress: Building Better Communities Through Transportation. The report profiles more than 70 innovative transportation projects around the country, including the Ann Arbor Transit Authority (AATA) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Detroit.

Providing people with choices in how they get around is an important way to help ensure public safety and mobility. Members of the newly-formed Alliance point to the tragic terror attacks of September 11 as an important example of why America must diversify its transportation choices. The airline system shutdown that followed the attacks left thousands of travelers stranded with no alternatives. Those cities with a variety of transportation options, such as Washington D.C. and New York, were best equipped to manage evacuations and commuter travel, as well as secure public safety.

In Michigan the effort to broaden transportation options is led by the 34-member Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition. The Coalition’s goals include maximizing state transit funding and promoting light rail or rapid bus service in Detroit and Grand Rapids. Detroit remains the nation’s largest metro area without a regional rapid transit system. Michigan’s lack of a rapid transit initiative accounts for the fact that the federal government returns to Michigan only about half of the transit taxes that the state’s residents send to Washington D.C., forgoing about $100 million a year.

But that can change as citizens and policymakers recognize and act on the need for better transportation options. “Cities that are planning and building good transit systems are doing so because they have a political champion,” said Transportation Riders United President Karen Kendrick-Hands. “Now, with Kwame Kilpatrick’s election as mayor, Detroit has one too.”
 
About the Institute
The Michigan Land Use Institute is an independent, nonprofit research, educational, and service organization founded in 1995. More than 2,200 households, businesses, and organizations have joined the Institute in support of its mission to establish an approach to economic development that strengthens communities, enhances opportunity, and protects Michigan's unmatched natural resources. Find more information about the Institute at <www.mlui.org>.

About Transportation Riders United
Transportation Riders United is a nonprofit grassroots organization made up of local transit riders and advocates, from all corners of the Detroit metropolitan region and each step on the economic ladder. TRU advocates for transportation access and mobility in Southeastern Michigan and sees a better transportation system as one of the vehicles that can carry Detroit farther along the path to greater prosperity and a more livable community. Find more information on TRU at <
www.detroittransit.com>.

About the Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition
The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition is a project of the Michigan Land Use Institute and the Michigan Environmental Council. The Coalition is working to improve the state transportation system by supporting public transit and other transportation alternatives, advocating road repair before new road construction, improving public participation in transportation planning, and ensuring that transportation decisions complement community land use plans. For information on Coalition membership and top priorities, go to <
http://www.mlui.org/projects/transport/coalition/mtlucintro.html>.

About the Surface Transportation Policy Project
STPP is a nationwide network of hundreds of organizations, including planners, community development organizations, and public interest groups devoted to improving the nation’s transportation system.

The full text of the Alliance’s New Transportation Charter can be found at STPP’s Web site at <
www.transact.org>. The 48-page, full-color Ten Years of Progress report is also available on the Web site or by calling (202) 466-2636. 

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*************************************
Mr. Kelly Thayer
Transportation Project Coordinator
Michigan Land Use Institute
P.O. Box 228
845 Michigan Ave.
Benzonia, MI 49616

Ph: 231-882-4723
Fax: 231-882-7350
E-mail: kelly@mlui.org
Internet:
http://www.mlui.org/