A Green New Deal for Public Transport

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A Green New Deal for Public Transport

Hayley Richardson

As the US confronts the twin crises of climate and the coronavirus, each disproportionately harming Black and brown Americans, it’s time for a reckoning over our failed federal transportation policies. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the necessary time frame outlined by scientists, we must make public transit a viable option for the majority of Americans. This will provide the greatest benefits to Black and brown riders, who have shouldered the burden of caring for our society throughout the pandemic, while continuing to take transit in large numbers.

Transit agencies’ budgets across the country have been decimated by COVID-19, and providing... them with an immediate infusion of cash is necessary to prevent imminent collapse. But beyond this short term relief, policymakers should seize the moment to enact a Green New Deal for transportation that reduces auto emissions and remedies longstanding racial inequities.

Luckily, in at least one area of federal transportation policy, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The Federal CARES Act, passed in March, unexpectedly contained the genesis for better transportation outcomes. For the first time in decades, it permitted all transit agencies to spend federal money on operations.

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