On Rosa Parks’ Birthday, we celebrate Transit Equity Day. This celebration is an annual opportunity to uplift the vital necessity for transportation justice through an efficient, safe, accessible transit system.
Last week, The Transit Equity Coalition approached the TriMet Board of Directors with a community-led demand: that Transit Equity Day, become a fare-free holiday on the TriMet system. The demand was that we celebrate Rosa Parks’ birthday by removing economic barriers for bus ridership. And after public testimony from PAALF, NAACP, Urban League and Bus Riders Unite, TriMet’s Board passed the resolution! Beginning next year (2021) Transit Equity Day, Rosa Parks’ birthday, will be a fare-free transit holiday on TriMet!
We will celebrate this victory on Transit Equity Day, February 4th, at June Key Delta Center from 6 to 8pm. We will uplift the struggles for Civil Rights and transit justice, with our beloved community. Join us! Next year, public transit will be fareless for Rosa Parks’ birthday, in honor of the struggle for transit justice!
Public transit is a human right. The right to move freely is one of the United Nations’ universally-declared human rights. Transit is a lifeline that connects transit-dependent people to community, jobs, health, food, and vital services.
The struggle for Civil Rights has always included the struggle for transportation justice. Widely-known Supreme Court cases like Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education decided legal questions about transportation as it intersected with the rights of Black people. The Montgomery Bus Boycott followed a coordinated direct action by an inspiring organizer named Rosa Parks. She refused to follow an unjust rule – that Black riders must move when white riders want their seat. Her community was organized for transportation justice, believed in a vision of a racially-just society, and they selected Rosa as the right person to nonviolently resist the injustice. Rosa was not, as sometimes portrayed, simply a brave old Black woman making a courageous move. She was an organizer, working as a part of a movement. She inspires our work daily to build a movement that honors our elders, is led by womxn of color, and secures the rights of low-income people and other groups impacted by economic exploitation, white nationalism, and ecological destruction.
OPAL, Bus Riders Unite, and Youth Environmental Justice Alliance are determined to increase transit ridership through Up With Riders. Our campaign demands a moratorium on fare hikes, and expanded transit free of fares, congestion, and racial profiling. Fareless transit, starting with every youth in the region, is possible if the leadership at TriMet listens to the community. TriMet leaders must share the vision of creating greater access for all riders, and increasing ridership, by eliminating barriers to mobility.
Board members and leadership at TriMet need, at the very least, to have the intellectual curiosity to explore pathways to fareless transit. Recently, leadership at TriMet have made statements opposing the Up With Riders campaign goals. Together we will ensure our community is heard as we advance our vision. Join us Tuesday in celebrating this victory, and learn how we will win more.