On April 9, a Stand Up for Transportation Day event was held in downtown Des Moines, IA, as part of the national movement. The purpose of these events was to advocate for sustainable and reliable transportation funding before the current funding bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), expires on May 31, 2015. MAP-21 was signed into law on July 6, 2012, and was the first long-term highway authorization bill enacted since 2005.
The Stand Up for Transportation movement emphasizes the importance of long-term funding in order to repair, maintain and expand America’s public roads, bridges, ports and rail systems.
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a long-term highway funding bill called the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure. This bill would “tie the current flat rate fuel tax to inflation as a long-term highway funding measure and appropriate an immediate $12 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure short-term solvency,” according to Overdrive. If approved, a task force would be formed to manage the Highway Trust Fund and put in place measures to raise fuel taxes if Congress fails to prevent shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund by the start of 2017 and 2020.
As part of the Stand Up for Transportation Day event, Ruan CEO Ben McLean took part in a panel discussion. Congressman David Young, who serves on the transportation sub-committee, opened by emphasizing the importance of finding long-term funding for transportation and offering to assist in reviewing grant applications.
“We’re going to have to get creative and think outside the box to find funding sources,” Young said. “I’m open to accepting stop-gap measures as long as there’s dedication to making long-term progress.”
The panelists addressed the challenge of finding transportation funding, as well as the effects on public transit and their businesses.
“Congestion is a significant issue around the country. It wastes time, zaps a considerable amount of productivity and makes travel less safe,” McLean said.
Safety is McLean’s number one concern. Investing in transportation keeps the roadways in good condition for Ruan’s 4,200 professional drivers. Transportation funding also maintains public transit, which a number of corporate employees rely on to get to and from work easily and safely.
“We live and breathe safety. Safety is our first priority—all of the time—as it should be,” McLean said.
McLean and his colleagues also discussed the other factors affecting the transportation industry, such as the driver shortage. In particular, trucking companies face the challenge of attracting younger generations to driving jobs. By the time young workers are 21—the minimum age to get a commercial driver’s license—many have already embarked on a different career path.
“Not as many individuals from the younger generations are interested in becoming drivers,” McLean said. “I think it’s a noble profession. I’m proud of the work our drivers do.”