An Engine of Opportunity

New report shows journalists and advocates where the transportation money is and how to steer it to the communities that need it most

It’s not too late for stimulus-funded public transportation projects to be steered to help millions of Americans hit “first and worst” by the economic downturn, according to a new report by the advocacy groups PolicyLink and the Transportation Equity Network.

The report, An Engine of Opportunity: A User’s Guide to Advocate for Transportation Equity in the 2009 Recovery Act, shows advocates and journalists how billions in transportation funding is being pumped out to the state and local level – and spotlights the key deadlines, reporting requirements and policy targets that are still to come.

“Low-income communities need affordable, accessible, reliable transportation to thrive,” said co-author Radhika Fox, an Associate Director at PolicyLink. “The stimulus must fund projects that are more than just ‘shovel-ready’ – the projects must connect residents to job centers and help create new jobs in our communities. The recovery package can make good on this promise for millions of Americans.”

Historically, the deck has been stacked against transportation projects that can improve the lives of low-income people and people of color. To ensure that the federal recovery package does not continue this imbalance, advocates and community leaders must be ready and prepared to fight to ensure their communities get a fair share of the recovery dollars.

“Accountability in government spending is job number one when it comes to the stimulus,” said Laura Barrett, national policy director for the Transportation Equity Network. “The nation's governors must make sure that all stimulus-spending targets distressed communities and brings jobs to low-income people, women and minorities. The public needs to know who got the jobs and who can be held accountable."

The “Engine of Opportunity” report follows another “User’s Guide” released late last month by PolicyLink and Green for All showing advocates how to ensure the green job revolution comes to low-income communities. You can follow the link to read Bringing Home the Green Recovery: A User’s Guide for the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

PolicyLink is a national research and advocacy institute advancing economic and social equity. For more information, please visit

The Transportation Equity Network is a national coalition reforming unjust and unwise transportation and land-use policies. For more information, please visit www.transportationequity.or