Champions of Change

In May, White House Recognizes Change Agents for Public Transportation

On May 13, the White House honored 11 local leaders as “Champions of Change” for their commitment to ensuring that transportation helps communities and connects people to 21st-century opportunities. Three of the honorees focus specifically on improving public transportation.

“Transportation Drives Our Lives”

One honoree, Josh Baker, took it upon himself to bring public transportation to the City of Radford, Virginia. He worked with local, state, and federal officials, community leaders, and the local university to build support and launch the Radford Transit system.

As part of his White House honor, Baker penned a blog titled, “Transportation Drives Our Lives,” where he writes, “Rural areas provide transportation operators with an entirely unique set of challenges….We looked at the situation [in Radford], identified how it was unique and needed to go together, then sat down together to figure it out. Moments of frustration are inevitable and tension is sometimes present, but in the end the reward is priceless.”

Another honoree, Dan Burden, advises urban leaders on ways to design cities that put people first by emphasizing walking, bicycling, and public transportation. Finally Marilyn Golden has spent a quarter-century advocating for the transportation rights of people with disabilities. You can read about all of the honorees on the White House website.

Why the White House Focused on Public Transportation

The White House has honored many Champions of Change working on a range of issues, such as education, business development, and communications—and now transportation access has been recognized as an absolutely vital issue. According to the White House, “Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity through connectivity, job creation, and economic growth. Recognizing social mobility as a defining trait of America’s promise, access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation is critical.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we take it one step further by emphasizing that public transportation is the best way to keep transportation affordable and accessible while meeting the needs of a rapidly growing and expanding population.

Now we need the White House—and Congress—to promote policies that will expand public transportation and make its benefits more widely available to communities all across our nation.

What the people honored by the White House Champions of Change award show is that regular citizens—people just like each of us—can be the driving force in moving public transportation forward in their communities.

Would you like to do more? At the Voices for Public Transit website, we provide in-depth information about how to build support in your community for public transportation. Check out the key sections “Make a Difference” and “Grow the Movement.”

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