Transit and Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus and started a movement toward equity
Transit Equity Day is Saturday, Feb. 4, in honor of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus and started a movement toward equity that we honor to this day. At the time she was working for the NAACP in Montgomery, Alabama, and she quickly became a symbol for so many others who are treated unfairly and she is still remembered for her bravery.
Rosa Parks died on Oct. 24, 2005. In a 2021 opinion piece The New York Times quoted her as saying, "Over the years, I have been rebelling against second-class citizenship. It didn’t begin when I was arrested."
In fact she was inspired by 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in March 1955. Move LA continues the legacy of Colvin and Parks by standing up for equitable access for all transit riders, especially those who are low-income and transit dependent.
It was about six months ago that Gov. Newsom vetoed AB 1919 to make fares free for all California students, a bill we had worked on with students and schools, colleges, climate and clean air activists, and transit agencies—and won support from all but one member of the legislature.
We have been trying to win free student passes for more than a decade, and were stunned when the governor vetoed this bill. Transit will also be bearing the brunt of Newsom's proposed budget cuts, with no new money proposed to aid the agencies that are facing a fiscal cliff because so many riders have not returned since COVID.
This is of major concern to those who believe free transit is key to making college more affordable—most transit passes now cost more than parking—and transit is key to helping reduce driving as climate change looms. Moreover we need to create a new generation of riders who could also help us all achieve our state’s social equity and climate goals.
LA Metro is one of the few agencies in the country whose ridership has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to the highly successful Fareless System Initiative (FSI) program that makes transit free for K-12 and community college students—a 2-year pilot project that is likely to end this June. This is another reason we are again asking the legislature for funding—not just for LA Metro but for all the other transit agencies who can’t wait for another year.
We know transit agencies across California are having a great deal of trouble rebuilding ridership post-COVID. And we know we could help low-income families struggling with rising inflation—and students who have to choose between spending their money on a transit pass or breakfast—because they would no longer need to give students money to get to and from school.
Moreover, studies have shown that free transit increases the likelihood that students will graduate from high school and from community colleges. For example:
- A Temple University study found community college graduation rates at Rio Hondo College in Whittier went up 27% for students who received free transit passes.
- A Harvard study found that location and access to transit were the single biggest factors in the odds of escaping poverty and avoiding homelessness;
- An MIT study found discounted fare programs for low-income individuals resulted in more trips on transit, particularly to health care and social services.
“We will not stop asking legislators to recognize that access to public transit is a cost-effective way to alleviate poverty, improve educational outcomes, and address low transit ridership and high-car usage in California,” said our partner Thea Selby, Trustee for the City College of San Francisco. And we agree!
Streets Are For Everyone's Executive Director, Damian Kevitt, has written an excellent piece on how the last several years have proven the streets of Los Angeles are both fast and deadly, with the 2022 fatality rate breaking the 300 mark with 309 deaths over 20 years—a staggering 28% increase over 2020 and an increase of 5% over 2021.
Do you think it's time to do something to stop the carnage? The tragedy is made worse by the fact that "vulnerable road users—pedestrians (primarily youth 29 and younger and seniors 50 and older)—are impacted the most by traffic violence," Damian writes. Pedestrian fatalities were up 19% (157 lives lost, the highest in 20 years), bicycle fatalities increased by 24% (21 lives lost, up 40% since 2020), and while motor vehicle fatalities were also at higher levels ironically they dropped 10% in 2022.Read more
Last year, Governor Newsom vetoed the Free Student Transit Pass Program (AB 1919) despite near unanimous support from all members of the legislature and a historic budget surplus. Join us Jan. 10 in Sacramento as K-12 students, parents, community college and university students, transit advocates, and climate justice leaders tell our elected leaders: "Get off your budget and on the bus!"
Move LA has had another very productive year of doing really “Big Stuff”—from AB 1919 to Measure ULA to Proposition 30, this year we fought for better transit, more affordable housing, and to curb climate change. We had some major victories, but we did not accomplish all our goals. You can read about most of this work here!
We want to thank you for supporting our work and making it possible!
Our small and effective staff appreciate a donation or recurring contribution in any amount today because it means we can start off the New Year with a renewed sense of purpose and the ability to continue our work toward a more affordable, accessible, and sustainable region for everyone.
And a very Happy New Year from (left to right) Denny Zane, Gloria Ohland, Marisa Garcia, and Eli Lipmen!
Move LA is proud to have enjoyed 15 years of remarkable success in Los Angeles County and in California, and we have played a notable role in at least 15 successful ventures described below.
We've been advocating for equitable, affordable, better-connected public transit and housing, addressing the existential crisis of climate change, and cleaning our air. We’ve only been able to accomplish the victories we cite below—from Measure R in 2008 to Measure ULA in November of this year—thanks to partners and supporters like you, who show up for our annual policy conferences and virtual programs, and engage in dialogue with us about critical issues on social media and via email, and who show up at our events to donate your time and to volunteer.Read more
Earlier this year Move LA started working on legislation to prioritize shade as an essential need for low-income transit riders and people of color who are on the frontlines of climate change. The bill would treat bus and pedestrian shelters and street furniture as a matter of statewide concern and identify the number of bus shelters and their locations, as well as gaps in this critical infrastructure.
During the heat wave we experienced last September, LA Times reporter Rachel Uranga wrote a lengthy piece on the challenges bus riders face in Los Angeles, where less than one in four bus stops provide shelter even though temperatures can become very hot. As I write in this article, we are in the midst of a climate emergency now and make too many riders stand and wait in the hot sun.
It doesn't have to be this way, but because the permitting process is so challenging in the City of Los Angeles (see graphic), we have built a fraction of the shelters that are needed for climate-resilient communities, which disproportionately impacts riders who are low-income, seniors, BIPOC, or people with disabilities.
Shelter provides respite from the heat. A study published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine found the rate of emergency department visits for heat-related causes increased 67% for African Americans, 63% for Hispanics, 53% for Asian Americans, and 27% for white people from 2005 to 2015.
Move LA, ACT-LA, Safe Routes Partnership California, Streets for All, Bike LA, Active SGV, and Let's Green California are joining in support of the demands being made by 48,000 striking Academic Workers at all 10 University of California campuses for free public transit passes and subsidies for bikes/e-bikes. Move LA Executive Director Eli Lipmen joined striking workers at UCLA in solidarity and sent the below letter to University of California President Dr. Michael Drake.
The Metro Fare Capping Proposal is Built on Two Fundamentally Flawed Assumptions, and the Board Should Reject It
Metro is proposing changes to its complex and complicated fare structure with a scheme called fare capping, an “equitable, pay-as-you-go fare payment model that ensures customers only pay for the rides they take and never overpay.” Fare capping, in theory, can result in a more equitable and “fairer” way to charge fares, according to research conducted by the National Academies Transportation Research Board and the experience of systems in London, Boston, Dallas, and other major metropolitan areas. And there are some good policies proposed in Metro’s proposal, such as capping the total cost a rider would pay per day/week, creating a simpler fare structure, improving the LIFE program, ending extra charges on Silver Line and Express routes, and removing the TAP card fee.
Despite this, Move LA asks the LA Metro Board to take a step back and direct Metro staff to restructure this proposal at their December 1st, 2022, meeting because the fare capping proposal is based on two assumptions that are fundamentally flawed and undermine the plan, resulting in unfair fares that are likely to drive customers off the system.
Let’s start with the example of a senior who takes two buses to see their doctor and pays $.35 for a one-way, off-peak fare. Under the proposed changes, the cost of their trip, one-way, would be more than five times more expensive ($.35 versus $2.00) and, with daily fare capping, still be 4 times as much ($.70 versus $3.00).Read more
Some say Lyft created Proposition 30 but if you know us and remember all the eblasts and Zoom calls we did about the need for climate and clean air action in 2020 and 2021 you know that isn't true.
Move LA and our Northern California partner SPUR began an online conversation with 70 elected officials, agency leaders, enviros and environmental justice and clean air advocates, labor and guests from the east and west coasts in 2020 after COVID hit—see our panelists HERE.Read more
Join us this weekend for major Get Out The Vote efforts! Saturday we'll kick off the Yes on ULA canvassing campaign at the LA/OC Building Trades in Historic Filipinotown at 10am. REGISTER HERE! And on SUNDAY, join our rally for Yes on Prop 30 in Hollenbeck Park at 12pm with free tacos and mariachis! REGISTER HERE!