Vice President Kamala Harris visited the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) 1819 Innovation Hub on Friday afternoon for a roundtable discussion on issues surrounding public transit.
Harris touched down at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport around 11:30 a.m., departing for Uptown in a motorcade shortly afterward.
The vice president was joined at the discussion by Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown and Cincinnati Metro CEO Darryl Haley, as well as representatives from the local transit union, the University of Cincinnati, the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
During opening remarks, Harris stressed the importance of using public transit to improve the livelihoods of working Americans.
“…Often it is the case for working people in America that they cannot afford to work where they live and they need to then travel some distance,” she said. “And it shouldn’t require that you have the financial ability to own a car, pay insurance, pay for new tires to be able to go to work.”
Haley shared a story about a woman who was unable to take public transit to get to work, due to Metro’s “really low” service on Sundays, forcing her to spend all her pay from that day to catch an Uber to and from her job.
“Public transit is about connection,” Haley said. “And it’s not just about connection to jobs…but it’s about connection to higher-paying jobs.”
Troy Miller, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Post 627, said one-eighth of the union’s 800 members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot,” Miller said, adding that before the order was implemented earlier this year enforcing masks on public transit, riders would often be on buses coughing without any face covering.
“You’re always worried what you’re going to take home,” he said.
Harris praised Cincinnati for its work improving public transit, primarily the passage of a $130 million per year levy for bus services and infrastructure improvements.
She also took the opportunity to tout her administration’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which proposes an investment of $621 billion in transportation infrastructure, including $110 billion for public transit.
Should that infrastructure plan receive approval in Congress, part of those funds could go toward the $2.5 billion Brent Spence Corridor project, according to reporting from the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Biden administration has said the infrastructure plan “will fix the most economically significant large bridges in the country in need of reconstruction,” but hasn’t released a list of what bridges are included.
The full discussion can be viewed below: