When people think of health care what comes to mind first are nurses, doctors, hospitals and medicine. Less often do people think of transportation’s connection to providing quality healthcare. Healthcare providers depend on safe, reliable transportation to deliver services to people in need. Unfortunately, declining transportation revenues are hastening the erosion of our transportation options.
Healthcare services provide more than just emergency transportation to hospitals. They serve families with a range of developmental challenges and help them with daily living, homemaking skills, employment, home modification, transportation and emergency assistance. Families depend on healthcare providers to give quality care through early intervention programs and family support services.
Getting to and from patient homes requires a team of professionals to traverse a network of roads, highways and public transportation routes. On the way, they’re likely to travel on one of the more than half of the roads in Colorado that are in disrepair. Statewide more than 52% of our roads are rated in poor condition and 33% of our highways require major rehabilitation or complete reconstruction. If our transportation budget continues with the status quo, this will only get worse.
Transportation officials have found creative ways to cope with a budget that has fallen by 30% over the last five years and even managed to make some roads safer, but the dollar can only be stretched so far. The real reason for the funding shortage is that the tax used to fund our transportation system was last increased in Colorado 1991. Now, the average Colorado driver is only spending $22.50 a month for federal and state gas taxes combined. Compare this to the average American worker who spends four times more for coffee every month ($90) than we do for the freedom of driving anywhere in the state.
Public support for increased funding will be critical to improving the system for the long-term. Move Colorado members were especially encouraged by the TBD Colorado meetings that Governor John Hickenlooper hosted across the state. During the meetings, transportation became a major topic of discussion. Polling of TBD participants from the regional meetings in June of last year indicated that an overwhelming number (over 80%) of them agreed that increasing tax revenue to invest in our transportation system is needed.
While the show of support for increased funding levels at TBD is a great start, we need your support as well. We inherited an amazing transportation system from our grandparents but it’s our shared responsibility to improve and maintain it. Our families and health care providers depend on safe transportation options that ensure quality and timely care is delivered. Please place transportation at the top of your priority list and urge your representatives to find realistic ways to invest more in the system.
Melissa Osse is the executive director of Move Colorado, an organization dedicated to building a smart, mobile and sustainable multi-modal transportation system in Colorado.