All friends of the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union

Great News for the Free Public Transportation Campaign

Join us at the MTA Board Meeting this Thursday, January 23

for the introduction of a motion by the MTA board

to explore free public transportation for all LAUSD Students!

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We are very appreciative that LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, along with 40 community allies, including the Strategy Center, the Bus Riders Union, and our Taking Action Social Justice Clubs in L.A. high schools has convinced key MTA board members to introduce a motion this Thursday for Free Public Transportation for all students.

As Martha Alvarez coordinating these efforts for the LAUSD explained,

Supervisor Solis, Council Member Bonin and Mayor Garcetti, will introduce a motion to direct the Metro staff to return in April 2020 with a report that reviews existing free transit programs and includes cost estimates for the provision of free Metro transit services for LAUSD students

To be clear, this is not yet an actual motion for free public transportation for students but a very important step in that direction that should be supported and celebrated.

As you know, from 1994 to 2006 the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union won major reductions in bus fares (to $42 a month) 2500 CNG buses, and 1 million hours of additional service. We also led a campaign to make the student bus pass far more accessible— with the cooperation of the LAUSD and MTA—by having them sold at the public schools. As you also know, we have been fighting for Free Public Transportation for all MTA passengers for the last 10 years. But no, despite speaking to 2,000 LA residents in South LA this summer, ending 350 post-cards to Mayor Garcetti encouraging this policy, we have not had the influence to get this translated into policy.

As such we are deeply grateful to Superintended Austin Beutner, who clearly has a lot more influence than we do with the MTA board, to initiate such a terrific motion and also grateful to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Hilda Solis and Mike Bonin for their leadership on this subject. We do hope in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, our mobilization of 500 community residents in 2014 to reduce the monthly bus pass and our monthly testimony at the MTA board calling for free public transportation has played some constructive role in this process.

As you know LAUSD students are as a group overwhelmingly Latinx and Black and very low-income. This will be a great step to encourage public transit use, to reduce the use of autos, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions air toxins, and criteria pollutants and get the MTA back on the path to dramatically increased ridership. The passage of this motion will be an important step forward for the cause of civil rights, environmental and climate justice, and a first step towards addressing income inequality for all Los Angeles families.

We are happy to be part of a coalition of 40 other organizations supporting this motion. We will be there this Thursday offering congratulations to all and also will continue to mobilize students, parents, and teachers for the longer process of translating this initiative into public policy. And yes, to continue the conversation about free public transportation for all MTA passengers.

Eric Mann, director, Labor/Community Strategy Center

Barbara Lott-Holland, co-chair, Bus Riders Union

Channing Martinez and Brigette Amaya–lead organizers Taking Action Social Justice Clubs

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