Support Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP-21 (S. 1813): Vote in Favor of Cloture

Media 03.6.12

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and
Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210
national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the
United States, we urge you to support the Moving
Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, MAP-21 (S. 1813).  MAP-21 is the result of a bipartisan
compromise and provides robust investments in infrastructure and job creation,
as well as investments to improve access to public transit for
transit-dependent communities.  Therefore,
we urge you to vote in favor of cloture.

The Leadership Conference is pleased that MAP-21 focuses
on low-income and minority communities in existing research and technical
assistance programs and preserves resources that fund essential transportation
options such as public transportation. The bill enables the Secretary of
Transportation to make grants or enter into cooperative agreements with
entities to provide technical assistance on how public transportation systems
can more effectively and efficiently provide service.  The inclusion of “transportation equity with regard to the
impact transportation planning, investment, and operations have on low-income
and minority individuals,” among the eligible criteria is key to improving
public transportation access for all communities, especially those that depend
on it the most. This is an important provision for communities of color, who
are more likely to rely on mass transit to get to work and school than Whites
and who in urban areas, comprise 62 percent of all bus riders.[i]

MAP-21’s modification of the existing research program
to create funding for research, development, and demonstration projects focusing
on providing more effective and efficient public transportation services to
seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income individuals is a
critical inclusion.  These
communities rely disproportionately on public transportation, so it is crucial
to provide research on how decisions regarding public transportation affect
their commutes and how to improve public transportation service.[ii] 

The Leadership Conference also applauds the restoration
of the pre-tax transit benefit in MAP-21 at the same level as the pre-tax
parking benefit. While we would prefer that the two benefits be permanently at
the same level,
we understand that the one-year sunset for the transit benefit is the result of
compromise. Restoring the pre-tax transit benefit to $240 per month would
allow transit-dependent communities to save money on their daily commute. For those individuals who rely most heavily
on public transportation not having a pre-tax benefit on par with the pre-tax
parking benefit would have a devastating financial impact and amount to an
unequal financial burden. Low-income individuals spend about 42 percent of
their total annual incomes on transportation, compared to 22 percent of
middle-income individuals.[iii] A pre-tax
transit benefit on par with the $240 pre-tax commuter benefit would allow
working families to save money on their daily commute.

Finally, we urge your support for at least two
Amendments to MAP-21 that can help ensure the promise of equal opportunity for a
broad range of communities. First, we urge you to vote for the Equal
Opportunity Assessment Amendment, Amendment No. 1542 offered by Senator Ben
Cardin, D. Md. The Equal Opportunity Assessment Amendment would require a
quadrennial national report that would analyze data on demographics and
compliance with existing civil rights laws in federal transportation programs.
This Amendment will further improve MAP-21 by including comprehensive and
coordinated data collection to ensure compliance with civil rights laws. The
data currently collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation and its
operating administrations are not reviewed and analyzed
comprehensively and are collected using different methods with minimal public
transparency. Thus, this new tool would provide a comprehensive analysis of
compliance with civil rights laws in federally funded transportation programs
and could assist federal, state, and local transportation officials in
increasing transparency and accountability and avoiding lapses in civil rights

addition, we urge you to vote for the Construction Careers Demonstration
Project Amendment, Amendment No. 1648, as offered by Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand, D. Tenn., which would aid low-income people, minorities, women,
veterans, and people with disabilities to have better access to construction
employment in the transportation sector, encourage hiring of these workers, and
build more opportunities for quality apprenticeship and preapprenticeship training
programs. Construction careers programs are gaining support because they create
unique pathways into careers for workers and address concerns about the
long-term need for a highly-trained and qualified construction industry

MAP-21 will help to ensure that the
federal surface transportation program improves mobility and travel options for
individuals of diverse backgrounds, while preserving our existing
infrastructure. We urge you to support cloture
on the bipartisan MAP-21 bill.  Please contact Lexer Quamie,
Counsel at (202) 466-3648 or [email protected]
or Nancy Zirkin at (202) 466-3311 or [email protected],
if you have any questions.  Thank
you for your consideration.



Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

[i] Pucher, J., & Renne, J. L. (2003). Socioeconomics of
Urban Travel: Evidence from the 2001 NHTS. Transportation Quarterly 57(3)

[ii] 33 percent of low-income African Americans; 25 percent
of low-income Latinos; and 12.1 percent of low-income Whites do not have
automobile access. “The Transportation
Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in
America,” PolicyLink, at  p. 16 at  Individuals with disabilities also heavily rely on public transportation[ii] and seniors are increasingly
more dependent on public transportation. National Council on Independent
Living, Position Paper at

[iii] Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey 2000