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June 2021: Once in a Generation Investment in Clean and Equitable Transportation Unveiled...

President Biden and Congress are currently negotiating two pieces of major infrastructure legislation that, through a wide variety of funding programs, would make substantial progress on addressing climate change, systemic inequities, poverty, unemployment, and recovering from the pandemic. One is a giant, one-time infrastructure stimulus package, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, that will invest transformational amounts of money into America's infrastructure including affordable housing, clean water, research, employment, and expand transit and rail. The other is a very large investment through the surface transportation reauthorization bill that sets the funding and rules for various ongoing U.S. Department of Transportation programs that provide access to opportunities, specifically through access to highways, transit, and rail. America gets a new reauthorization bill roughly every five years, but a stimulus like the American Jobs Plan is once in a generation.


Advocates, affected communities, local jurisdictions, and business interests are ready and eager for the passage of these transformational investments. On Earth Day 2021, 40 organizations from every corner of  Oregon called on Congress to increase federal funding for transit operations. This would enable transit agencies in Oregon to increase service hours by as much as 50%, making possible the dream of “more buses everywhere” and improving options for those most in need. These investments would pump dollars into the local economy by creating family wage jobs as transit operators. Investments of this scale would help shift trips from driving alone to riding the bus, reducing traffic congestion and contributing to our collective efforts to reduce our region’s greenhouse gas emissions. 


Our advocacy is working! As a result of our Earth Day mobilization and overwhelming community support, we had an opportunity to connect national transit leaders with staff for Oregon’s own Rep. Peter DeFazio. He recently introduced the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (INVEST in America Act; H.R. 3684), a House surface transportation reauthorization bill. Key provisions are linked below, and benefits to the community include:

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Reinventing the future of public transit infrastructure is key to tackling climate change. Over 28 percent of greenhouse gases in the U.S. come from transportation — in Oregon it is more than 40 percent — making transportation the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Now is the time to invest in the public transit infrastructure for the future. The INVEST Act: 

  • Provides record investment in transit; increases funding and incentives for transit-oriented development.

  • Invests $4 billion in electric vehicle charging and alternative fueling infrastructure; Invests over $4 billion in zero emission buses.

  • Establishes a new greenhouse gas performance measure.

  • Creates a new carbon pollution reduction apportionment program.

Photo Credit: Get Moving

Photo Credit: Oregon Metro


Investing in public transit is an investment in racial justice because it is essential to the economic well-being of communities of color. Sixty percent of transit riders are people of color. Yet, over the past several decades, the federal investment in transportation has consistently neglected public transit. The systemic racism of mass transit disinvestment needs to stop. The INVEST Act: 

  • Creates a new $3 billion program to reconnect economically-disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods that have been divided by arterial highways and other infrastructure.

  • Creates a new program to reduce transit deserts, improving access to jobs and essential destinations in communities that are unserved or underserved by transit.

  • Adds additional planning considerations for accessibility and equity, including a holistic look at housing and land use policies, in both the statewide and metropolitan planning processes.

  • Requires the Secretary to consider whether projects serve persistent poverty communities in the Projects of National and Regional Significance program ($13 billion).

Photo Credit: Safe Routes Partnership


Active transportation has increased significantly over the last decade, but pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities also soared by almost 50 percent in that timeframe. The INVEST in America Act tackles this crisis with comprehensive policies to ensure safety is a top priority. The INVEST Act: 

  • Significantly increases funding for pedestrian and bike infrastructure and complete streets.

  • Boosts highway safety funding by more than 50% over current law.

  • Ensures speed limits take safety into account.

  • Requires coordinated pedestrian and bicycle safety planning.

  • Strengthens performance measures by removing the ability to set regressive safety targets.

Photo Credit: Safe Routes Partnership


Tens of millions of people in the U.S. rely on public transit to get to work every day, generating trillions of dollars in economic activity. Every dollar invested in transit offers a five-to-one return and every $1 billion invested produces 49,700 jobs. Transit agencies are often among the largest employers in their cities. The INVEST Act: 

  • Invests $547 billion to rebuild and re-imagine America’s surface transportation infrastructure while boosting American manufacturing and creating millions of jobs.

  • Will be carried out by American workers and American ingenuity, thanks to strong Buy America requirements and labor protections, including Davis-Bacon wages.

  • Positions the U.S. to compete globally by strengthening manufacturing and creating good-paying jobs.

Photo Credit: Get Moving


Rural communities often don’t have the resources to fix roads and structurally deficient bridges, even though this infrastructure can be a critical link for residents, small businesses, and emergency vehicles. The INVEST Act: 

  • Increases the off-system bridge set-aside, providing approximately $1 billion in annual investment in off-system bridges out of highway formulas to repair deficient and unsafe bridges in rural and small communities.

  • Increases funding for dedicated rural transit formula grants by 50%, supporting rural transit infrastructure; streamlines the process by which the Federal Transit Administration provides funds to rural and small communities, ensuring that they receive federal funds more quickly.

  • Boosts total tribal transportation funding to $1 billion per year in guaranteed investment, which will predominantly support rural areas.

  • Reforms the Surface Transportation Program to ensure that smaller cities and towns receive their fair share of highway funding.

  • Increases the High-Risk Rural Roads set-aside to direct more funding for crucial safety projects in rural communities.

Photo Credit: Get Moving

December 2021: The Clean and Just Transportation Network unveils its transportation priorities for federal funding coming to Oregon...

The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law on November 15th, 2021, bringing a multi-billion dollar, once-in-a-generation investment of funds to Oregon to address transportation infrastructure needs. This is a unique opportunity for Oregon’s transportation decision-makers to demonstrate climate and equity leadership while creating good family-wage jobs in allocating funding for statewide transportation infrastructure. Oregon will not meet its climate goals, nor address transportation inequities if we continue funding the status quo. We need to do more than shore up this system; we need a full overhaul... 

Read the full letter here. 

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