Transit Rights

Transit Rights

Among bus riders there is an inherent sense of solidarity that exists in very few other places. Whether it’s the unreliable bus schedules, inconvenient route changes, or increased fares, riders find comfort in their ability to share their transit grievances and war stories. In Los Angeles, that solidarity has been organized and turned into a demand for transit rights. The Bus Riders Union (BRU), a project of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, is a progressive civil rights and environmental justice membership organization. The group works with minority and working-class communities to push for environmentally sustainable public transportation for the entire population of Los Angeles, and views affordable, efficient, and environmentally sound mass transit as a human right. Since late 1996, the BRU has had a formidable obligation—as the court-appointed class representative in the civil rights Consent Decree settlement won in October 1996 in the case of Labor/Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union et al. v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA). The Bus Riders Union holds the political and legal responsibility to represent the civil rights of 400,000 daily bus riders in Los Angeles County. Since they began organizing, the BRU has made significant improvements to the L.A. transit system. LAMTA is now obligated to reduce overcrowding, maintain equitable fares, and create a five-year plan for county-wide new service to break down transit segregation. Other victories include: • Saving monthly bus pass from elimination • Establishment of bi-weekly & weekly bus pass • No fare increase for 9 years • 75¢ night fare (9pm-5am) • 1,800+ new compressed natural gas replacement buses • More than 550 new CNG expansion buses (bringing the MTA bus fleet to over 2,400) • Largest clean fuel fleet in the county • Saving the Night Owl bus service & reversing bus service cuts • Over one million annual bus service hours added • 12% increase in bus ridership • Creation of 800+ new public sector, green, union jobs • Elimination of the Student Bus Pass application process (increasing use by 64%) • More than $2.5 billion in public money redistributed to Black, Latino, Asian and white working class bus riders The fight is far from over, but the BRU’s 3000 dues-paying members and 55,000 supporters have shown that there will be no rest until they accomplish their goal of environmentally sustainable public transportation for all. So next time you’re complaining to your fellow Baltimoreans about our ailing transit system, think about your own transit rights and what a Bus Riders Union in Baltimore might accomplish. —NP For more information about the Bus Riders Union, visit their website at http://www.busridersunion.org