LANSING, MI (November 30, 2011) Former Michigan Congressman and BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! National Co-Chair Mark Schauer led a roundtable discussion today at the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) to urge Michigan to invest in its transportation systems and crumbling infrastructure and increase public transportation to keep America competitive, decrease pollution and create good, green jobs. The discussion was followed by a tour of the CATA facility expansion.
“Our entire transportation infrastructure needs improvement if we’re going to hope to compete in the 21st century global economy,” said Schauer. “In Michigan and throughout America, we used to have a world-class transportation system, but we haven’t been making the investments we should have been making. We need to make those investments now to get people back to work, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and ensure we leave a better planet for our children and grandchildren.”
Schauer was joined by labor and environmental leaders, including CATA CEO/Executive Director Sandy Draggoo, Board Chair Pete Kuhnmuench, as well as Steve Soliz, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1039; Jonathan Byrd, Legislative Director, Michigan Laborers District Council; Frank Szollosi, Energy and Climate Policy Coordinator, National Wildlife Federation; and Derrick James, Director of Government Affairs, Amtrak.
The leaders advocated for improved transportation networks, in the form of safer and greenertransit, rail, high-speed rail and biking and walking infrastructure, which will reduce congestion, saving oil and time, and reducing pollution.
“We need a robust public transportation system that will ensure that people can get where they need to go in the most efficient way possible, and that will result in sustainable jobs” said Draggoo.
Board Chair Kuhnmuench added, “A family with an annual household income of $35,000 a year can save $5,000 each year. And, a cleaner, safer, and more efficient transportation system will save us all money.”
“Federal transit operating assistance puts people — both transit employees and transit-dependent individuals — back to work,” echoed Soliz.
Transportation infrastructure investment is a cornerstone of Jobs21! — a nationwide grassroots initiative coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance — focused on the jobs and industries of the 21st century including transportation, manufacturing, renewable energy, energy efficiency, green chemistry, recycling, broadband Internet, and a smarter transportation grid.
“Investing in transportation will put get construction workers off the bench and back on the job,” said Byrd. “Unemployment is high in Michigan, but construction unemployment is even higher. Rebuilding bridges, roads, and transit infrastructure will help our state be competitive but will also help make sure people can put a roof over their heads and food on the table.”
“With gas prices volatile and rising demand for transit, we can’t afford to have our transit systems shut down, lay off workers, hike fares or reduce services, leaving people without viable transportation options,” said James.
America spends about $1 billion a day on foreign oil, and overall, transportation accounts for two out of every three barrels of oil we burn.
“Oil burned from transportation produces nearly a third of our greenhouse gas pollution,” said Szollosi. “Improving our transportation infrastructure will decrease the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emission released into the atmosphere that are harmful to our environment and to the health of our residents.”