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Transportation is a Civil Right

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The cost of busing a child with disabilities is about $20,000 in New Jersey. Yes, that sounds like a lot! The reasons include overhead costs (smaller buses with fewer students than your typical school bus) and a bus aide or bus matron to assist the students, not to mention insurance. A recent incident in which a Jersey City school bus driver and aide were fired and arrested after leaving a 4-year-old with disabilities on a bus for several hours highlights why these costs are necessary.

As Wired also observes, because the majority of government transportation funding goes to highways and therefore automobiles, there’s much less being allocated for greener options, like bike riding and walking:

By focusing so much spending on highways, we’ve created decentralized communities. This is not, by itself, a problem. No one’s arguing everyone should live in cities. But we’ve underfunded mass transit and built minimal infrastructure for the 107 million people who walk or ride bikes to work each day.

(That’s a whole ‘nother issue: Americans make about 10.5 percent of all trips on foot, and only 1.5 percent of federal transportation funds are allocated to retrofitting roads with sidewalks and crosswalks even though pedestrians account for nearly 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to a study by Transportation for America.)

Even more, as Wired points out, “inadequate mass transit creates barriers to employment.” According to the report, three out of five jobs “suitable for welfare-to-work participants are not accessible by public transportation.” A Brookings Institute study has found that 45 percent of jobs in the US’s 98 largest metro areas are 10 miles or more beyond the urban core.

You can also be sure that those jobs aren’t paying the highest wages to match up to the cost of bus or train passes. Indeed, Americans in the lowest 20 percent income bracket spend about 42 percent of their annual income on transportation.

Congress is currently considering the surface transportation reauthorization bill, which will determine federal transportation spending and priorities for the next six years. We need to let Congress know that millions of Americans have limited access to transportation, and, as Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Conference on Civil and Human Rights says, are daily challenged to get to “jobs, schools, housing, health care services — and even to grocery stores and nutritious food.” Transportation is a civil right and we need to ensure that all Americans are able to get where they need to go.

Related Care2 Coverage

U.S. Approves Highway System for Bikes

Boy With Disabilities Forgotten on School Bus: Why Didn’t Someone Ask Where He Was?

Autistic Man Left in Locked Van and Dies: You Call This Care?

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Photo of people waiting for New Jersey Transit by Hunter-Desportes

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30 comments

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10:20AM PDT on Oct 1, 2011

Cheap mass transportation facilities.

10:38PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

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9:28PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

cant live without it...

1:21PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

I like public transport, but really, it's a local issue.

12:44PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

ty

9:57AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Of course! Especially for people who can’t afford a car, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities should always have the reliability of a public transportation.

9:20AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Socialism is not a right, it's a flawed theory.

7:11AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Public transportation HAS to be a right. For a long time now people do not live anywhere near where they work, and not everyone can afford their own private transportation. Even if they could it's better for the environment for people to use public transportation whenever possible. It is in everyone's best interest to support public transportation as much as possible.

Even with the advent of solar cars, solar public transportation is an even better choice when practical.

7:03AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Marie, obviously you have never been to China. Sure they have SOME public transportation - mainly buses - in the large cities. But having been around the world I have never seen as many cars and motorcycles as I have in China - with the possible exception of Vietnam.
Europe? Been to Italy, Germany, France? Traffic in Rome or Paris can be an absolute nightmare. Sure they have subways - just like we do in the major cities, but there is no car shortage there. What they do have is crappy roads.
You do not know what you are talking about.

5:09AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

High five to Jan N! A competent response.

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