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Ohio Transportation Equity Coalition urges Governor, GA leaders to increase investment in public transit

December 16, 2016

Honorable John Kasich, Governor of Ohio Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Speaker Cliff Rosenberger

Senate President Keith Faber, Senate President-Elect Larry Obhof, Director Jerry Wray

December 14, 2016

RE: Ohio Transportation Equity Coalition

Dear Governor Kasich:

We the undersigned advocacy organizations, collaboratives, agencies and communities write to introduce our coalition and to express our interest in working with you throughout the upcoming biennial budget process and beyond, to increase Ohio’s investment in accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation options. We are a diverse coalition, hailing from Ohio’s urban, suburban and rural areas, and with representation from a wide variety of stakeholders who are particularly concerned about Ohio’s public transit systems – including people with disabilities, older adults, environmental groups, bicycling organizations, human service providers, business and faith leaders.  

As you know, according to the 2015 Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Transit Needs study, the state of Ohio needs $192.4 million in capital and $96.7 million in operating funds just to meet existing demand for public transportation services.  An additional $273.5 million in one-time funding is also needed to address system backlog and bring Ohio’s transit fleet to a state of good repair.  

Ohio’s under-investments in public transit, over the past several decades, have left the state of Ohio’s public transit system lacking.  Lack of widespread public transportation limits low-income worker’s ability to reach a diversity of jobs with living wages and their ability to support themselves and their families.  It also leaves too many people with disabilities as well as those who are aging essentially homebound, making it difficult for them to access the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and to meet their other needs with dignity.  

Ohio currently allocates little more than one percent (1%) of its entire transportation budget towards public transit; unfortunately, that meager investment ranks Ohio 47th out of all other states for its commitment to public transportation.  This coalition recommends Ohio invest at least ten percent

(10%) of its transportation budget in public transit as well as safe bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure and education, and stands ready to work with you to act upon ODOT’s Transit Needs Study findings.  Ohio needs a 21st century transportation system made up not only of roads and highways but also a complete network of affordable, accessible, and environmentally-friendly transportation options, including public transit, passenger and freight rail, streetcars, hybrid buses, electric vehicles, and walk-able, bike-able streets. 

For low-income Ohioans, the cost of driving is often prohibitively expensive, and for the elderly and persons with disabilities, driving may not be an option at all.  Indeed, data indicates that 8.4% of Ohio households have no access to an automobile. Transportation also accounts for roughly 25% of all emissions in Ohio and half of the $51.4 billion we spend on energy each year in Ohio (nearly all of which is imported from out of state).

Going forward, the state of Ohio should invest in more public transportation options to reduce our vulnerability to oil price spikes, create a more economically sustainable and accessible transportation system, give firms and workers low-cost and accessible commuting options, and reduce health-threatening emissions.  Investments in accessible public transit options will also spur economic development, increase employment opportunities, reduce urban sprawl and congestion, and create more livable communities for all Ohioans. 

A greater investment in public transportation would yield significant positive outcomes not only for many Ohioans but also to help sustain the state’s economic recovery.  According to the American Public Transit Association, every dollar invested in public transit generates six dollars in economic returns, and investments in public transportation projects create nearly 20% more jobs than equal investments in new roads and highways.  

Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter, and we look forward to working with you during the budget process.  If you have questions or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Kathy Foley of Services for Independent Living of Ohio at 216-731-1529.

Respectfully,

Ability Center of Greater Toledo

Access Center for Independent Living 

Advocates for Ohio’s Future

All Aboard Ohio

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 (Cincinnati) 

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268 (Cleveland)

American Council of the Blind of Ohio

Americans for Transit

Area Agency on Aging 3 (7 county region in NW Ohio)

Bike Cleveland

Catholic Social Services 

The Center for Disability Empowerment

Center for Independent Living Options 

The City of Lorain

Clevelanders for Public Transit

Disability Rights of Ohio

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority 

Greater Dayton RTA

Innovation Ohio

Joy Machines Bike Shop

Kirwan Institute

Mid-Ohio Board of Independent Living Environments (MOBILE)

MOVE Lorain County

Motorcars Mobility

National Church Residences – Center for Senior Health

Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislation Equality (NOBLE)

Nuns on the Bus Ohio

Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a)

Ohio Bicycle Federation

Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

Ohio Environmental Council

Ohio Olmstead Task Force

Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council

Policy Matters Ohio

Senior Transportation Connection

Services for Independent Living, Inc.

SEIU, Local 1

Sierra Club, Ohio Chapter 

Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living (SOCIL)

Transit Columbus 

UH Bikes

The University of Cincinnati, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging

Western Reserve Independent Living Center 

Women Empowered, Educated, Employed (WE3 Collaborative)

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