With the six-year federal transportation spending bill up for renewal this year, major changes could be in the offing. For the first time ever Congress is entering this reauthorization debate with its main repository of federal transportation funds, the Highway Trust Fund, insolvent. At the same time America is changing demographically and socially, leading to shifts in the kinds of transportation options that people want. Congress will have to meet these new needs and find new sources of funding.
With Americans seeking out new forms of transportation in congested urban areas, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is emerging as a relative.ly low-cost alternative. The 25 BRT systems now in operation across the United States vary considerably, but most share characteristics such as dedicated lanes, larger capacities than regular buses, faster trips, and more rail-like stations. Although new BRT systems in places like Boston and Eugene, Oregon, have proved highly popular, some opponents contend that light rail systems are generally a better choice.
Light rail systems are trains that are lighter and shorter than commuter rail or heavy rail systems. Although light rail represents only a small portion of the public transportation market, it is the fastest growing mode of public transportation and has been shown to provide a significant stimulus to surrounding economies. But the recession is slowing light rail expansion plans and forcing service cut-backs and fare hikes.
The 2009 Growth and Transportation Survey, sponsored by the National Association of REALTORS® and Transportation America, asked Americans how their communities are handling development, how development affects them, and how the transportation needs of communities can best be met. Respondents favored increased investment in bus and rail systems and policies to encourage denser development over building new roads as priorities for federal and local governments facing challenges of economic stagnation, population growth, and traffic congestion.
REALTORS® recognize the impact that quality education makes in every aspect of society. The future of business and industry, the real estate market and homeownership, our communities, and our nation depends on well-educated citizens and a well-educated workforce. To that end, we support programs and policies that promote quality education by efficiently financing capital construction, maintenance, and operations of our public school systems. We believe that public education is a state and local issue.
The REALTORS® Code of Ethics commits members of the REALTOR® organization to providing equal professional service without discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender (sex), sexual orientation, disability (handicap), familial status, or national origin. That commitment reflects the same principles embodied in the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits such discrimination in housing-related transactions.