Every Bus Stop is a Protest: Stop the Bus Service Cuts Now!
by Gabriel Strachota on Friday, February 4, 2011
Let's be clear: the MTA has declared war on a half million Black, Brown, Asian and working class bus riders.
2007 - 25% fare increase.
2008 - 57,000 hours of bus service cuts.
2009 - 120,000 hours of bus service cuts.
2010 - Another 25% fare increase.
December 2010 - 388,000 hours of bus service cuts.
And now, just one and a half months after this last round of devastating bus service cuts, the MTA has aimed their battle axe at another 27 lines- 11 being proposed for elimination and another 16 to be reduced.
On February 1st the MTA held their first ever centralized "all region hearing" on the service cuts to kick off their routine round of 5 service sector meetings. We were excited to see that the outrage we heard organizing on the buses over the last month translated into mass action- with over 150 bus riders showed up to the hearing as the BRU launched the campaign to "Stop the Bus Service Cuts".
Among the crowd was a large group of Bus Riders from East Los Angeles who showed up not only to protest the proposed cuts, but to demand that the recently cut 30/31 bus line be reinstated. After failing to provide sufficient translation devices for monolingual Spanish speakers, the service sector chair attempted to further silence the East Los Angeles residents by claiming that only comments on proposed cuts could be heard. After an uproar from East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and even Korean Bus Riders the residents reclaimed the space by testifying to how the MTA deprived them of their basic needs- to go to the grocery story, take their children to school, pick up their up medication- simply by cutting the 30/31 bus line.
The East Los Angeles residents and the BRU had it right. The last round of service cuts and fare increases created unbearable conditions that must be reversed now! As BRU member Rosa Miranda said, "Cada parada del autobús es un protesta/Every bus stop is a protest." And the longer it takes for the bus to arrive, the angrier and bigger the crowd is getting.
BRU members at the hearing went on the record urging the agency to tread carefully as they move forward. If these cuts go into affect, the MTA will cut 70% of the 1.2 million hours of bus service expansion that was won during the BRU's civil rights consent decree. The agency's aggressive plans to expand a rail system that serves an affluent white ridership while at the same time gutting the bus system looks an awful lot like the civil rights violations that forced the MTA into a consent decree in the first place. As we wait to see the results of an administrative complaint filed with Federal Transit Administration [FTA] against the last round of cuts the rumblings of discontent in the streets are growing. The MTA has pushed and pushed the bus riders of LA. As the revolution raging on in Egypt reminds us, the people can only be pushed so far before they reach a tipping point.