Action Center

Local 689 Launches a series of public town hall events

Reaching out to passengers and finding common cause

About a quarter to six, a crowd of people began to enter the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library to attend a town hall meeting hosted by ATU Local 689. Bus drivers with their uniforms were chattering with their fellow workers, representatives of unions were sitting with riders of public transportation systems, and delegates from various community groups were handing out leaflets.

The meeting began with a short introduction from the moderator, Askia Mohammed reminding the attendees that this meeting was intended for positive discussions and that hostility is unwelcomed. Then questions began to flood the floor. A wide range of inquiries were voiced from the audience, subjects such as the health of public transit employees, safety of drivers and passengers, scheduling of buses, design of bus routes, and maintenance of the metro system.

At first, passengers confronted the panel about bus drivers’ rude attitudes towards the riders, constant delays of buses, and malfunctioning of escalators and elevators. But as the panel began to explain that public transit workers were also frustrated by these problems and lacked the power to fix them, passengers began to empathize with the transit employees. In the end, both the transit workers and the transit riders came to the conclusion that they are trying to solve the same problems and that they need to build a coalition among themselves to improve the public transit.

The meeting lasted two and a half hours without any negative occurrences and finished with positive energy. There are plans to hold more town hall meetings in the future to address more issues and enhance the transit system for all.

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