From streetcar operators in Toronto, to bus drivers in San Diego, ATU represents the men and women who help move the United States and Canada. Millions of riders depend on public transit to get to work, to medical appointments, and to the grocery store every single day. Our members are the bus drivers, rail operators, mechanics, station attendants and other support personnel who make safe, efficient, and affordable public transportation possible.
From 1995 to 2009, public transportation ridership in the U.S. grew at a rate of 34 percent – twice as fast as the population growth rate and 10 percentage points faster than the growth rate of vehicle miles traveled on our road and highway system. As a result, transit ridership is at record levels with transit authorities providing more than 12 billion annual passenger trips in the U.S. and Canada.
Despite record ridership, U.S. public transit systems are carrying out some of the steepest fare increases and deepest service cuts in recent history. Since the beginning of 2009, approximately 85% of public transit systems have raised fares or cut service, and thousands of workers in the industry—a significant percentage of the “green” workforce—have been laid off. Unemployed people can’t get to potential jobs, and people who work non-traditional hours, typically people of color without other means of transportation, are disproportionally affected. It is critical that lawmakers understand the mobility challenges that their constituents face every day (Stranded Voices - White Paper). With federal guidelines prohibiting some transit systems from using federal money to keep systems running, many systems are in the odd situation of having brand new buses purchased with federal money, but no state and local funds to place those vehicles into service. This transportation crisis clearly marks the need for transit systems to have the flexibility to use their federal funds for operating costs to maintain critical service.