TSTC’s Kate Slevin Speaks With InfrastructureUSA

Thousands of New Jerseyans spoke out against fare increases and service cuts earlier this year.

InfrastructureUSA, an “online community focused on generating a dynamic national conversation about America’s deteriorating civil infrastructure,” has posted an interview with Tri-State executive director Kate Slevin. In it, Slevin recaps the history of positive change in the tri-state region over the last decade, and then discusses more recent challenges and trends facing the region and the country. Some excerpts:

On preventing disasters: “We have seen some pretty big disasters in the past couple years, and some very near disasters. … Weʼre very lucky that the New York State DOT just destroyed a bridge, the Champlain Bridge, after they found that it was structurally unsound and no one could use it anymore. If they hadnʼt caught it, then who knows what would have happened and how many tragedies we would have seen as a result of that.”

On political action: “People are certainly right now up in arms about the transit cuts weʼre facing, not only in our region but across the country. You have people who have never been engaged in political issues before e-mailing governors and elected officials because they know that their fares are going up 25 percent and their transit service is being cut… You are seeing an intense reaction. Whether or not the people in charge are listening or able to give the agencies the revenues that they need to stop those transit cuts from happening, I think, is a different story.”

On national investment: “High-speed rail is an excellent investment and weʼre strong supporters of anything that has the potential to improve connections between cities and reinvigorate urban areas that havenʼt seen the transportation investment they deserve… At the same time, overly focusing on high-speed rail when we have a serious transit crisis on our hands now, with the current system, is a little misguided. Weʼre seeing subway and bus service cuts all across the country, weʼre seeing infrastructure thatʼs not safe to drive on, and weʼre seeing transit fares go up everywhere. We canʼt maintain and keep the operations of our existing system at the level they are today without a significant increase in investment.”

Listen to, or read, the whole interview here. Infrastructure USA, a project of the Open Space Institute, has interviewed other policymakers and  advocates, such as Rep. James Oberstar, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; James Corless of T4America; and John Horsely of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, on its Infra Blog. Photo: Zoe Baldwin/TSTC.

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