Public transit service is further cut under the guise of “consolidation.” Public transit has to compete with highway and roadway construction for the same pot of money and usually gets the cub’s share, while road construction gets the lion’s share. Public transit funding is too dependent on sales tax, which is a volatile source given inevitable recessions. Costlier commuter train systems that benefit a wealthier class take funds from urban bus systems. There are systematic political attacks on transit workers to cut their wages and benefits and minimize budget cuts to management. Fossil fuel costs will inexorably increase as public transit use decreases and the environment will continue to take a beating.
Congestion pricing for commuting and parking would help encourage people to use public transit and contribute to funding. Smart development would encourage public transit by clustering transit hubs where concentrations of people ride public transit and major shopping centers are. Public transit should be 100 percent subsidized by businesses in proportion to the percentage of their workers who ride public transportation to work.
Transit unions need to unite to beat back takeaways, to fight for cost-of-living increases as a human right, and efficient, affordable and reliable public transit as a right for all. Public transit should be free to ride. There should be more frequent service, especially at night.
We need to build a coalition between transit advocates, transit unions, green organizations, and renewable energy providers as part of a movement centered on environmental justice.