Urban Transit Is A Civil Rights Issue

On the anniversary of Dr. King’s death, April 4, transit workers join together with the occupy movement and transit passengers across the country to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

Dr. King declared “transit systems in most American cities…have become a genuine civil rights issue…If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get to meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life.” His words ring true today as Boston and our country faces a public transportation crisis.

April 4th, 2012 marks a National Day of Action in Boston and throughout the country to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, on April 4, 1967, delivered his famous speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence,” in which he explained the link between war and poverty. On that same date, exactly one year later, Dr. King’s voice was silenced by an assassin’s bullet. Dr. King played a key role in Montgomery bus boycott for racial equality and throughout his life fought for the rights of those in the 99% impacted by cuts to public transportation: low-income Americans, communities of color, students, workers, and seniors.

We ask: “Where Is Mass Transit Today?” In 2011 Americans took 10.4 billion trips on mass transit, the most in decades, but public transportation is still under attack…

  • 85% of transit systems have cut service or raised fares since the recession having a devastating impact on those who rely on mass transit — the 99%.
  • Thousands of transit workers have lost their jobs.
  • Transit systems are deteriorating: older vehicles, deferred maintenance, longer wait times for overcrowded buses and trains.
  • Wall Street is profiting off of the debt that transit systems face. The NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had to pay over $1.1 billion in interest payments in 2011.
  • Instead of cutting fares, MTA is cutting checks to Wall Street bankers – the 1%.
  • Service is being outsourced to foreign national companies looking to make a killing while compromising the safety and service for passengers and workers.


  • The Pentagon spends $300 million per day on the Afghan War. That’s our tax dollars that could be spent on public transportation and other critical investments for our communities.
  • Politicians won’t commit to fund mass transit adequately and blame the economic crisis. Instead they raise fares and cut routes, but service does not improve.
  • The bankers and brokers – the 1% – control the money for public transportation and threaten the transit systems that took a century to build. The greed and corruption must stop.

Take Action Now! Join us on April 4th, 2012 for hearing inside the Massachusetts State House at 3pm followed by a rally outside at 5pm.

Permanent link to this article: http://carmensunion589.org/2012/03/urban-transit-systems-have-become-civil-rights-issue/


  1. Local 589 is so right ! Good public transportation is a civil — and human — right. Let’s get serious about moving our tax dollars from unnecessary wars and bloated Pentagon spending, and use that money for needed public services like the MBTA ! Some of those other more State/local budgetary solutions look good too. No need to keep raising fares and reducing service!

    • j cat on April 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    raising fares as the cost of fuel/equipment has increased is something that is required. it should be done on a yearly basis to reflect on the cost increases . if done every 5 years this then causes price shock.

    cutting service should never be done when ridership is rising. service should be altered when conditions require it.

    cutting service and increasing fares with ridership increasing is typical BAD MBTA management performance.

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