T Riders Union Member Speaks Out

The following is a speech made by Donna Dear, a T Riders Union member who lives in Roxbury, during ACE’s 2006 Greater Boston environmental Justice Tour which occurred on September 27, 2006 as part of a national Environmental Justice for All tour. The proposed fare increase has decreased slightly, due to the diligent organizing of T Riders Union members, but the sentiment remains the same.

Good morning everyone. My name is Donna Dear. I am a member of ACE/ TRU. I frequently ride the MBTA’s routes 15, 28, and the Silver Line.

I want to talk about environmental justice from a people and humanitarian point of view, namely dealing with the issues of transportation and youth.

There are many injustices in the transportation system in my neighborhood. I’ve participated in the Boston Bus Marathon carried out by T riders Union members on April 18, 2006. That was truly a test of endurance and perseverance for me.

I experienced first hand how Rosa Parks felt in days of yore when she steadfastly stood up for her rights and those of other minorities.

The Marathon taught me that not everyone agrees with or supports the cause you die fighting for, and because of this one has to exercise tremendous tolerance and restraint.

I’ve also realized the stark socio-economic inequalities that exist within minority/ inner-city neighborhoods as compared to more affluent places. That’s why I don’t agree with the MBTA’s proposed fare increase.

This increase comes at an all time economic low. Gas prices are high and prices of store merchandise are steadily climbing.

Many people are going to have difficulties paying the new bus fares. Moreover, without a Charlie Card, you are disadvantaged – the T says that you must pay a cash surcharge. New cash fares will be $1.65 for buses, and $2.25 for trains.

SOLUTIONS:

I strongly believe that the MBTA should seek alternative methods to alleviate their mammoth debt.

1),They can keep existing fares and improve their service thereby increasing ridership.

At the moment riders have to put up with slow unreliable service and sometimes rude disrespectful drivers. Moreover, we demand reinstitution of a rapid light rail service.

2) The MBTA should have better management of buses. The automated fare collection (AFC) system of the Silver Line frequently malfunctions. Riders ride for free when this happens, resulting in lost revenue. Please get AFC systems that are effective.

3),The T should petition the state legislature for increased funding or amnesty to get rid of the Big Dig debts.
4),The state should also bring about a plan to reimburse the T for loses incurred as a result of the “tax free” holidays offered to Bostonians.

In a nut shell, forward funding is no longer working. There is an encouraging sign that the T Riders Union (TRU) might be making some headway in their demands for the MBTA.

It should be noted that TRU members will always UNITE we won’t give up the fight or transportation justice.

If this means targeting Deval Patrick and Kerry Healey, we will.

As is the case with transportation, I also see injustices where the youth are concerned. The inner-city youth all too often don’t have a voice. They are not included in decisions that are made for them. We must realize that their voices are extremely important to our future because they are our future.

That is why ACE/TRU worth together with the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) and have advocated for more Summer Jobs for youth.

There is still a lot of room for improvement as regards jobs for the youth.

While you are on this tour think about and consider ways we can bring about transportation justice and help the youth in the various Boston communities and in your community.

Thank you.