Media Center

Feb 4

Honor Rosa Parks with an appeal for more, better, and just public transit

Silver Spring, MD – Amalgamated Transit Union International President Larry Hanley released the following statement to mark Transit Equity Day to celebrate Rosa Park’s birthday.

“Nearly two-thirds of a century ago Rosa Parks broke the law by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. She was arrested and locked up in a Montgomery, AL, jail.

“In response, the black community of Montgomery decided to boycott the city’s buses until they could ride with dignity. The boycott lasted 381 days – until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such discrimination was unconstitutional.

“One of the organizers of the Montgomery bus boycott was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.. He helped Americans understand that civil rights included not only the right to vote and to take any seat on the bus, but the right to a decent home, and a good job; the right to join a union, and equal access to a good life.

“King also recognized that equal access to public transportation was one of those essential rights because  rapid-transit systems determine the accessibility of jobs. Unfortunately, transit systems did not provide that access. So, King proclaimed, 'urban transit systems' have become 'a genuine civil rights issue.'

“Since then our urban transit systems have grown far worse.

“Privatization of public transit has led to private companies running a public service not for the public good, but for their bottom line. 

“Our cities have become full of transit deserts where riders in low-income communities have to spend hours walking and taking circuitous routes simply to get to their jobs, see their families, buy groceries, or get to a medical appointment.

“From Portland, OR, to Trenton, NJ, to Minneapolis, MN, to San Francisco, CA and many other cities transit systems have cut service and raised fares. People of color and low-income families, who depend most on public transit, are bearing the brunt of these reductions in public transit service and rising fares.

“To celebrate Rosa Parks birthday, the Amalgamated Transit Union is joining with the Labor Network for Sustainability, Jobs with Justice, the Institute for Policy Studies and others to declare Transit Equity Day on February 4, 2019 to call for increased investment in public transit.

“More investment in public transit will create a cleaner environment. Transportation is the second largest source of climate change. Riding a bus, train, trolley or light rail rather than a car helps reduce pollution. Buses emit 80% less carbon dioxide than a car and rail transit emits almost none.

“More investment in public transit will give every person in every neighborhood regardless of age, race, class, gender, or disability the right to safe, convenient transportation at an affordable cost.

“So to honor Rosa Park’s legacy let’s invest in public transit to create a more just, clean and accessible future for all.”