The Bus Riders Union is trying to figure out the most we can do during this COVID 19 medical, political, economic, social, and ethical crisis of our society. As with all of us, playing to our strong suit and the work we have the right to claim is the best way to proceed—along with supporting the initiatives and work of our allies. Today we ask all of you for your support on two interrelated calls to the Los Angeles MTA—to stop the collection of all fares immediately and agree to Free Public Transportation for all until December 31, 2020 at which time we hope they will agree to make it a permanent policy.
The Strategy Center is deeply grateful for the initiative of LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, LAUSD Board Members Monica Garcia and Jackie Goldberg, and MTA Board Members Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and City Councilman Mike Bonin for the possibility of Free Public Transportation for all LAUSD Students as early as this September. This has not passed at the MTA yes. This is a terrific initiative and the Bus Riders Union, along with our Taking Action student leaders at Roosevelt, Augustus Hawkins, and Ouchi High Schools, is very happy to be a critical and visible part of that broad coalition along with Community Coalition and Move L.A Manual Arts.
That was before the COVID 19 Pandemic. Now there is an even more urgent call to the MTA—Please suspend all fare collections now and institute free public transportation for all MTA passengers at least until December 31,2020.
The 450,000 MTA bus and train riders are 55% Latino, 20% Black, 60% women, with family incomes under $20,000. Before the COVID 19 Pandemic they were barely making it and many were not at all. When public transportation re-opens for the general public they will be facing a catastrophic future—for many, no jobs, no income, no money. For those with jobs, how can they afford to get to work when they have not worked for months? For the students, the unemployed, the homeless, for the urban poor and working class free public transportation is the only price they can afford. Fortunately, the MTA, with a $7 billion budget and 4 ½ cent sales taxes is one of the most well financed government agencies in the U.S.
Free Public Transportation would dramatically increase public transportation use, significantly reduce auto use, and dramatically reduce air toxins, criteria pollutants, and greenhouse gas emissions from autos. We know for sure that free public transportation would at least DOUBLE the MTA’s present 450 million annual one ways trip to 900 million. We also know that under the present punitive and egregious fares—$1.75 one way, $100 a month pass—auto purchases among low-income workers have increased by 400% and MTA ridership is down at least 10 percent. Free Public Transportation is a civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, income equality, and climate justice victory for all.
Please help us now! We need to hear from you now as every day for bus riders is getting worse.
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