Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sabin on Freedom, Opportunity, and Choice

Better late than never on my part...

Way back on August 11, Warwick Sabin (State Representative and Executive Director of the Arkansas Innovation Hub) spoke at the unveiling of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority's new identity: Rock Region Metro. He focused on the theme of great transportation systems providing freedom, opportunity, and choice, as opposed to one that prioritizes one mode over all others. Who's truly free when the only viable way to participate in a region's economic, social, spiritual, and familial life for most people requires owning, maintaining, fueling, and spending time in a car? His words are posted below:

I am honored to participate in this event to celebrate the transition of CATA to Rock Region Metro. 
This transition includes a lot of exciting developments that we are hearing about today, but in my capacity as a state legislator representing the central and downtown parts of Little Rock, and as a member of the Move Central Arkansas Blue Ribbon Commission, I want to simply convey in the strongest terms that I support the continued improvements to Rock Region Metro because great cities need great transportation systems. 
In my view, it comes down to freedom, opportunity, and choice. 
For business owners, a great transportation system means that employees have reliable and inexpensive options to get to their jobs. After all, not everyone has a car, and most people don’t live within walking distance or biking distance from their jobs. When people can move around more easily, the pool of potential employees is larger, and the costs of coming to work are lower. It creates the opportunity to open more areas to development, and even better, it attracts exactly the kinds of younger high-skilled workers that we need right now, and who have definitively expressed their desire to live in high-density urban areas with robust public transit systems. Why? Because they want more freedom, opportunity, and choice. 
For our citizens, the benefits are obvious. Opportunity increases when it’s possible to get to that job, or to get to a school to enhance your skills and education. The money each individual saves by having a more efficient transportation system can be directed to other priorities, and helps to stimulate our local economy. And the time we save improves our quality of life. That means more freedom, opportunity, and choice. 
And finally, for policy makers, a great transportation system has never been more important than it is now. Roads are a critical component of a great transportation system, but there is a tremendous deficit in road funding at the local, state, and federal level. We can barely afford to maintain the roads we have, much less build new ones. If the Central Arkansas economy grows the way we want it to grow, that will mean more people – and more people moving around. And as we are learning here in Little Rock, you can only expand a road so much. Transit offers another option, it relieves stress and traffic on our roads, and should energy prices dramatically increase due to a crisis or shortage, we will be prepared to keep people moving. And yes – that means more freedom, opportunity, and choice. 
There are so many great reasons to support a great transportation system, and I know that all of you agree, or you wouldn’t be here today. But it is important to share this message with all of our friends and neighbors. 
Together, we can continue to move Arkansas forward, and it is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate another step in the right direction. Thank you.
Sabin delivering his address, August 11, 2015

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