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Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity

Where we need to go“Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity,” is the first in a series of reports by The Leadership Conference Education Fund examining the key roles transportation and mobility play in the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity. The reports highlight critical issues and make recommendations for policymakers as they draft a reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs, which will allocate hundreds of billions of federal dollars for transportation projects that will have a profound impact on every person in our county. What is transportation equity? It means a transportation system that works for everyone. At present, the promise of our civil rights laws to open doors to opportunity rings hollow for people who are physically isolated from jobs, schools, good housing, stores that sell healthy food, and health care providers. As we consider how to rebuild and rethink our transportation policies, we must make decisions with civil and human rights considerations in mind. As policymakers discuss such important issues as how best to rebuild and repair our nation’s roads, bridges, railways and ports, and where and how to prioritize investments in public transportation and in creating good jobs, it is vital that they take into consideration the needs of underserved communities and populations. Transportation investment to date has often excluded or inadequately addressed the needs of low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities, seniors, and many people in rural areas. The cost of car ownership, underinvestment in public transportation, and a paucity of pedestrian and bicycle-accessible thoroughfares have isolated urban and low-income people from jobs and services. Similarly, seniors, people with disabilities, and people in rural areas often have limited transportation choices.