This week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked each of the eight mayoral candidates five questions and posted their answers for all to read. For a couple of candidates, when asked about how Richmond will address its high concentration of poverty, their answers involved having a reliable and improved regional transit network.
In their own words:
Jack Berry: "We must strengthen initiatives that will make a difference, like the City’s Housing Trust Fund; community land trust; sales of tax delinquent vacant, blighted properties; and the transit network plan."
Joe Morrissey: "Decreasing poverty has four components: wages, transportation, intense time-limited support services, and jobs...The Pulse/BRT and feeder line system must be in place to get people to work."
Michelle Mosby: "Often overlooked but critically tied to poverty and economics, a better internal Transit System must be discussed to enhance our hopes for a better economy. We will work with the counties as opportunity arises but we also must be responsible for making sure within our own borders we have a great Transportation Network that is reliable, that is Affordable and that gets people where they need to go in a timely fashion. Some people believe that Transit follows development but I am of the belief that if we create a better transportation network, development will occur along those systems."
Levar Stoney: "There are three mains areas where we need to address this issue. It begins with providing good-paying jobs and transportation to our adult citizens, ensuring our children receive a quality education, and making sure our senior citizens who live on fixed incomes are protected and engaged with our communities."
If we want to address poverty, transportation is a great place to start—but Richmond can't do it alone. There are almost 128,000 jobs along the major corridors of the region that are completely inaccessible by public transportation. We need to envision a truly regional transit network that spans the entire metropolitan area and can get folks to these jobs regardless of where they live.
Luckily, the Richmond Regional Transit Vision Plan, which should drop later this month, will provide exactly such a vision.