Save Our Ride! Public Transportation Under Attack

Tiny - Posted on 21 February 2011

Thursday, July 15, 2010;

I depend on BART to get to my job in San Francisco twice a week. My job does not pay me in money but gives me knowledge of a whole new side of media production and education and a whole different perspective of life. Although getting paid in knowledge is priceless and a gift deserving of the masses, it does not help pay the rising costs of public transportation in San Francisco. Unfortunately I am not the only person who will suffer when the public transit fare increases and the service line decreases.


“As a senior, they doubled my fare in one year. This affects me because after paying rent I only have $200 to pay bills and fast pass,” said Bruce Allison, elderly transit user. “This is a hardship.”


On June 29, 2010 community members, public transit users, public transit workers, environmentalists and poor people gathered at the doors of the Federal Building in San Francisco to protest rising costs, decreasing service lines, and decreasing employment opportunities for transit workers. The goal of the protest was to urge Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Pelosi to support two pieces of legislation (HR-2746 and S-3189) that would avoid further budget/service cutbacks and provide long-term flexibility in transit funding to give local communities the ability to meet their needs.


“I think MUNI is either oblivious or pretty much insensitive toward economic times. People can barely afford to get a ride as it is,” Marlon Crump said.


This fare increase and service line decrease is a double-edged sword for poor people across the Bay Area. Not only will we no longer be able to afford to ride public transportation or have to resort to stealing public transportation but even when we can afford it MUNI’s service lines will be cut so we will end up getting stranded on our way to our jobs, on our way home to feed our families, or on our way to pick up our children from school. In the end, this cut will leave us stranded.


“With the service cut, anytime you get on a bus you can almost guarantee feeling like you’re in a sardine can,” said Thornton Kimes, public transit user.


At the protest rally, the air filled with different chants and cries. “Stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of the workers!” “Fix our transit! Fix it now! Fund our transit! Fund it now!” “We have money for wars but can’t transport the poor!” The rally was filled with solidarity between workers, union members and the people that need it the most, poor public transit riders.


“At a time when the economy is down we need public transportation most,” said SF Labor Council Director, Tim Paulson. “Who’s affected most? Working people. Poor people. Homeless people. Students.”


As I sit at Macarthur Station and wait for my transfer to Richmond I wonder what effect the service cuts will have on people. Will the late night service line be cut entirely, leaving me stranded in Oakland for the evening? I reach in my pocket and count the last of my dollars from the day. $5 exactly. I had to worry about not spending any money that day to be sure I would be able to pay the increased toll at the Benicia bridge that night. And all I could think is would I be able to afford to make it to work the next time?


Right on! Right on! Ride on! Ride on! Save our ride!


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