People want nice things. And they deserve them. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans received $130 million in federal funding to repair the public transportation system, but FEMA’s approach aimed to replace the value of the buses, instead of the actual amount needed. We must ensure that this mistake is not repeated again anywhere in Louisiana, and that a dollar value does not take priority over human lives and needs. In order to meet our demands, we must redress public funding to prioritize public transportation in city and state budgets. This can help provide funding and disaster relief in the event of a natural disaster of more, less, or similar intensity as Hurricane Katrina, which complements our resiliency demand.
In terms of electric bus fleet acquisition, we have to establish a zero-emission bus fleet goal. Not only are electric buses better for clean air attainment and human health overall, the reduced pollutants also decrease contributions to the heat island effect. Furthermore, electric buses are more affordable over the long-term, particularly because of their lower maintenance and fueling costs. But also, they are nice, y’all. We need to pay attention to the aesthetics and amenities that come with riding electric buses and public transit, writ large. Are the spaces clean and comfortable? Are there charging stations? Do people feel safe and treated with integrity and dignity? Are the ticketing systems easy to follow, pay and use? Moments are defined by the experience, whether buying a house or a car or taking a big step in making a career change. So let’s define this moment – this big purchase and investment – by how well people remember their experiences in public transit.