LAUSD Students Demand Transportation Not Tickets

What: Student Press Conference and Speak-Out. South Los Angeles transit riders and community members urging Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the MTA Board to address the needs of transit dependent students. Pickets, chanting, spoken-word poetry and open mic.
Who: Westchester High School students, teachers, and Bus Riders Union members
Where: Corner of Manchester Ave and Lincoln Blvd
When: Tuesday, March 31, 2:30pm

Why: Thousands of students throughout Los Angeles depend on MTA buses to get to and from school. Yet, poor bus service forces many of these students to spend hours in transit. Further, students are routinely criminalized for being late to school with $250 tickets (under LA's daytime curfew law LAMC 45.04), frequently the result of long waits and unpredictable bus service. Students are also restricted in their ability to participate in after school programs because of infrequent bus service in the afternoons/evenings.

Los Angeles County Measure R will bring $40 billion to the MTA over the next 30 years, yet there is no concrete plan in place to improve bus service with the 20% designated for the bus system. Westchester High School students and teachers will speak out in support of the Bus Riders Union's Clean Air and Economic Justice Plan, which outlines how the MTA can use Measure R funds to improve their lives and educational access. Specifically, students will be urging leadership from Mayor Villaraigosa and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes Westchester and the South LA communities most of its students reside in. Both leaders support increased opportunities for Black and Latino low-income youth and now have an important opportunity to increase educational access by supporting the BRU's plan.
MTA staff released an inadequate report in mid-March about the potential use of Measure R 20% bus funds. The vague report was drafted with virtually no public input and the Board is not obligated to review it in public. Moreover, it lacks clear timelines or benchmarks for concrete improvements, reiterates support for ongoing fare increases, and points in the direction of service cuts over time. In contrast to this report, the Bus Riders Union Clear Air and Economic Justice Plan calls for 500 new expansion buses, $150 million for bus-only lanes, and:
Service Expansion, Not Reductions: Bus line 115 (Manchester) demonstrates the critical need to increase service in order to meet student needs. This line is the only bus which drops Westchester students in front of school. Yet, in the morning, when students are going to school, 13 out of 16 buses between 6:30am and 8:00am (when the bell rings) stop short at Sepulveda. This forces students to either walk from Sepulveda (1.74 miles) or transfer to the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. This transfer adds time to their travel, requires an additional 50 cents, and drops you off at Lincoln Blvd where you must still walk 3 blocks (.42 miles). To make matters worse, students are routinely slapped with $250 tickets by school police when they are late, even when it is because of poor bus service.

Reversal of the 2007 Fare Increase: More than 80% of LAUSD students are Title I, meaning their families earn below the federal poverty line. Many of these families have multiple bus riders. This means that a family of 2 adults and 2 children pays $174/month in bus passes. Given rising unemployment, many families no longer have 2 wage earners, making transportation costs even more burdensome. By reversing the 2007 fare increase, a single bus rider could save at least $120 a year, and hundreds more in a family with multiple bus riders.