Transportation Investments will Drive Growth, Energy Savings

On the eve of construction season, Jobs 21! National Co-Chair Mark Schauer led a roundtable urging that infrastructure improvements are worth the short term pain for the long term gains they provide in job creation and boosting competitiveness.

Jobs21! Transportation Roundtable Participants Discuss How Fixing MI Transportation Will Repair the Economy, Environment

KALAMAZOO, MI (March 27, 2012) Former Michigan Congressman and BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! National Co-Chair Mark Schauer led a roundtable discussion today at the Kalamazoo Metro Transit/Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority on the eve of construction season to urge Michiganders that infrastructure improvements such as construction projects and mass transit investments are worth the short term pain for the long term gains they provide in job creation, pollution prevention and transportation competitiveness.

“It’s not hard to see construction projects and infrastructure improvements only for the headaches and delays they cause over the driving season, but the silver lining is that they create thousands of jobs,” said Mark Schauer. “Taking a hard look at Michigan’s transportation infrastructure would reveal weaknesses that addressing now rather than later will protect public safety, make movement across the state more efficient and protect the environment.”

Advocates in support of BlueGreen Alliance’s push for transportation investments Sean McBride – Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority, Executive Director, Bill Schomisch, Executive Director, Kalamazoo Metro Transit, Marty Stone, ATU Local #1093, President, Frank Szollosi- National Wildlife Federation, Regional Outreach Coordinator and Derrick James, Director of Government Affairs, Amtrak all joined Schauer during the roundtable discussion.

The transportation roundtable event takes place as the House of Representatives moves forward with another short-term extension of federal transportation funding in place of the Senate-approved two-year extension.

“Mass transit is an invaluable public service that is threatened where funding sources are unstable,” said Sean McBride – Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority, Executive Director. “The benefits of these services reach well beyond bus riders. Everyone benefits from fewer cars on the road.”

After the roundtable, participants also took a look at how the recent purchase of five electric hybrid buses in Kalamazoo, built in California, are working to reduce fuel usage and benefit the economy and the environment.

“Making mass transit greener is also making green for our taxpayers,” said Bill Schomisch, Executive Director, Kalamazoo Metro Transit. “Kalamazoo’s recent purchase of hybrid buses are saving taxpayers thousands in fuel and maintenance costs, and finding other ways to green mass transit will bring more rewards.”

“Our local members are invested in ways to streamline transportation, because transit jobs are undoubtedly green jobs,” said Marty Stone, ATU Local #1093, President. “Our bus drivers make it faster and more efficient to get from point A to point B and that’s key value to transitioning to a green economy.”

Transportation accounts for two out of every three barrels of oil we burn, even small improvements add up over time in savings of greenhouse gas emissions and less pollution.

“Kalamazoo stands out for its smart investments that will really pay off for the local workers, businesses and the environment for years to come,” Frank Szollosi- National Wildlife Federation, Regional Outreach Coordinator. “This project and other investments like it are crucial to strong transportation infrastructure and protecting Michigan’s beautiful Great Lakes and environment.”

“Federal, State and Amtrak investments recently allowed us to increase passenger train speeds west of Kalamazoo to 110 mph,” said Derrick James, Director of Government Affairs, Amtrak. “This work created jobs and makes rail trips more attractive. Continuing that funding partnership will allow us to spread the benefits of faster train service to other corridors.”

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.