The idea of starting a Transit Riders Union grew out of the fight against bus service cuts earlier this year. King County Metro’s main source of revenue – sales tax – has taken a sharp dive since the recession began, and by spring 2011 Metro was facing the prospect of 17% cuts. Dozens of bus routes were slated to be eliminated. Some effective propaganda by Metro, combined with the organizing efforts of a wide variety of community groups, helped to raise a huge public outcry. Thousands of people attended public hearings and signed petitions, demanding that this vital public service be preserved.
This is not just Seattle and King County’s problem. Cities and counties across the nation are in the middle of similar battles, and to make matters worse, federal funding for public transportation is in danger of being cut too. And of course, it’s not just our bus service that is in danger.
This is why we have decided to found a Transit Riders Union. We, the people who depend on public transit, need a permanent organization to make sure that our voices are heard, an organization that gives us the power to shape the course of events. We are dedicated to building such an organization: a union of, by, and for the poor and working people who depend on public transit. We believe that every human being has a right to safe, affordable, reliable, and accessible public transit. We will continue to fight to preserve our bus system – and not only that, we will fight for better public transit. (To learn more about what the Transit Riders Union is about, read our principles.)
I recommend reading the entire post. There are some thoughtful, committed people involved with this organization, and I am looking forward to being involved.