Transit Riders’ Union Launch Nov. 15th

The Transit Riders’ Union is having a launch meeting in the Central District:

Join us on November 15th for a discussion of the fate of public transit in Seattle and beyond. We will talk about the Transit Riders Union’s plans for the future, and announce our upcoming campaign. Short presentations by a panel of speakers will be followed by open discussion. Light refreshments will be provided.

Location:
The 2100 Building
2100 24th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144

The 2100 Building is wheelchair accessible, and is served by the 4, 7, 8, 34, and 48 buses. It’s about half a mile from the Mt Baker light rail station.

RSVP not necessary, but if you’re sure you’ll be there and can let us know, that will help us to plan. Email contact@transitriders.org, or call (206) 651-4282.

Curious about what this launch means, I had a chat with co-organizer Scott Myers, and edited for length and clarity, below the cut:

How do you relate to the old Transit Riders’ Union? 

Basically, we started the Save our Metro campaign during the bus cuts thing. We met a lot of people doing that, and decided to start a permanent organization. We got in contact with Rodney Rutherford [of the old TRU] and he offered us the name, but it’s pretty much a completely new organization that just has the same name.

How many people are currently involved?

There are about 10 core organizers, and maybe 20 to 30 that are obliquely connected.

And you’re seeking to recruit more at Tuesday’s meeting?

Yeah, that and to let other people and groups know what we’re about.

There are other organizations advocating for expanded transit funding, like the Transportation Choices Coalition. What unique focus or resources will the TRU bring the table?

We went to these [Metro cuts] hearings, and there are individual bus riders coming to these meetings, but there was no real organized force for these bus riders, especially poor and working riders. A lot of getting more money for transit also involves shifting the tax burden away from progressive sources and onto the middle class or poor and working people. We want more money for transit, but we don’t want that cost shifted onto us. We can’t afford it, and we don’ t think that’s a sustainable way to do that. When sales tax revenue goes down, like in a recession, the only option is cut our service. We want a lot of the same things [as TCC]. I believe poor and working bus riders will get behind progressive transit initiatives if they’re organized.

So, to summarize, more emphasis on the nature of revenue sources, and also more emphasis on recruiting poor and working-class people?

Yeah, especially poor and working-class transit riders.

Your posted list of principles talks a lot about expanded, progressive funding sources for transit. Are you going to inject yourselves into debates on how those transit dollars are allocated?

We don’t have any concrete plans. I’m sure we will have to weigh on these things. It all comes down to our principles. We want rail and an efficient system, but not at the expense of leaving behind those who rely on transit. What that principle would mean in actual practice we’ll have to work out.

Will you get involved in zoning and land use or remain focused on transit funding?

We’d have to; it’s integral to transit. In our internal discussions, we’re leaning towards supporting development without pricing out poor and working people. We won’t necessarily try to stop it; we’ll fight for accessible and low-income housing.We are on the side of bigger and more concentrated populations, but we’d make sure there’s a place for poor and working people.

What kind of tactics and leverage will you apply to leaders to achieve your goals?

We want to build the power of poor and working people that depend on transit.  That requires organizing and fighting in different spheres: social, economic, and political. We need to be organizing in neighborhoods and on the street. We need to be applying whatever economic pressure we can bring to bear as consumers or as workers. Politically, we need to apply pressure for initiatives and pro-transit politicians. The important thing is mobilizing pressure from below, forcing politicians to become more progressive. We’re focusing on organizing bus riders and building up lines of communication that represents their interests in an organized way.

Do you have plans to support full-time staff?

We don’t have an official plan, but what we’d like to do is have a membership organization with dues, just like a labor union. But until we can actually achieve that, we’re all-volunteer.

One of our principles is independence from existing governments, unions, businesses, etc. To me, the key is to solicit contributions from transit riders.

***

The vibe I get from TCC’s membership is upscale and insider-y. And that’s great; it’s often the vehicle to get things done. I think the TRU is targeting the opposite demographic, seeking to organize lower-income people for mass action.

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great summary, Martin. I’m thrilled that Scott and Katie were willing to pick up this organization and run with it. Our region needs a strong TRU, and I believe they have the time, energy, and talent to make it a success.

    • Erik G. says

      The yellow shirts and the “comradescott” e-mail address concern me greatly.

      Who is really behind this please?

  2. Adam Bejan Parast says

    This is great news. I certainly hope TRU can build a robust structure so it will be a sustained effort. The voices that TRU can bring to the table will certainly help to round out the discussion, as the fight for the CRC showed.

  3. The Squeaky Wheel says

    Echoing Adam, I hope TRU can get to the point where they are advocating for transit and mobilizing affected riders in the messy small decisions that happen all the time. Transit improvements like bus lanes and better stop placement often get watered down by businesses that do not want bus stops next to their property or fight to keep parking. The feedback government gets is often lop sided as it is hard to get people who simply ride a bus past an area to the table in the same way that a property owner’s input is almost always included in planning decisions. I hope that down the road TRU will start to even this playing field. I think there will be empathetic ears in the powers that be in this region for this constituency if they become more mobilized.

  4. Carl says

    In LA the TRU has often been a negative force for long-term improvements to the transit system – opposing fare increases, fighting to preserve low-value routes (e.g. infrequent 1-seat ride where the same trip can be accomplished by a transfer on frequent routes), and consistently fight rail and generally infrastructure spending in favor of current operating spending.

    It’s great to ensure good service and resources for poor and transit-dependent neighborhoods but I hope they will take a long-term view about long-term investments, including capital investments, and network design.

    I’m not a fan of further fare increases – our fares are high enough now, especially for those who don’t have employer-subsidized monthly passes. More favorable and consistent fares and transfer policies between Link, ST & Metro, and accessibility of ORCA are goals that would benefit transit-dependent riders without a monthly pass.

    • says

      The Seattle Transit Riders Union fully supports the expansion of our High Capacity Transit network including a full build out of ST2 Light rail plan. We want to mobilize transit riders at a grassroots level to effectively pressure regional and state governments to fund more expansions of the transit network.

      One of the key debates is on how to fund this. Our take is that we need to fight for a more progressive tax structure in Washington State, which currently has the most regressive tax system in the country. Shifting funding sources away from regressive sales taxes and user fees and onto a progressive income tax is one of our long term solutions (as well as many other social justice advocates). In the short term there are many other progressive funding sources that haven’t been fully tapped for transit funding, such as re-instituting the so-called “head tax”, Local Improvement Districts (such as was used to fund the SLU Streetcar), and other taxes on major businesses that greatly benefit from their employees using the transit system, but in our opinion are not paying their fair share.

      Clearly this fight over funding is no small task. But in my opinion, working people (many of them transit riders) have borne the brunt of the recession, while corporate America sits on vast seas of liquid assets that they refuse to invest into the economy. If the private sector won’t spend, the role of the state is to step in and do some of the spending itself.

      It’s an important fight that we welcome all to support!

      • Carl says

        I hadn’t even noticed the distinction in name between LA – where it is called Bus Riders Union – vs. Transit Riders Union. The Transit Riders Union name is encouraging.

        But parts of the agenda – e.g. to push for a state income tax or bigger federal deficits – go far beyond advocating the best transit and mobility for the poor and transit-dependent. And it creates risk of diluting both the message and the support. Transit can have support from across the political spectrum by leveraging themes of reduced pollution, better development patterns, more livable and walkable communities – and social justice and improved mobility for poor and transit-dependent – without drawing it into the more divisive topics of instituting an income tax or railing at capitalism. While you may criticize corporate America for building its cash reserves, in the uncertainty of the past four years that has actually been the prudent, safe thing to do. I won’t go further into that debate but feel that the larger we can make our tent and the more supporters we can draw in, the more effective we are.

      • says

        (Posting this here since the thread reply depth limit doesn’t allow me to reply to Carl or Eric directly…)

        @Carl, I agree with you, and I know others have raised similar concerns. You should know that the TRU is quickly evolving and the best way to shape its direction is to get involved. The leaders are primarily committed to leading the TRU as a democratic org that represents transit riders. The worst thing we can do is get caught-up infighting on specific details. It sounds like you agree on that point, so I hope you’re willing to look beyond the current statements and help build a powerful org to represent all transit riders.

        @Eric, while I can’t seem to pull up the page you’ve linked, I’m quite sure the answer is “no”. Reference point 9 of their ‘Principles’ (http://saveourmetro.org/about/our-principles/): We are independent of all political parties, governments, unions, businesses, and non-profits; however, we may choose to work with any of these in coalition.

      • Transit Rider says

        If the TRU is truly the democratic organization its creators are hoping for, it could be taken over by a dedicated group determined to advance a certain agenda — like keeping all those under-utilized services like the 42. Another reason for all transit supporters to get involved, so it doesn’t get hijacked by tub-thumpers.

  5. Mike Orr says

    I wonder how TRU will explain to its members that they need to get over their low-density, duplicative bus routes. Advocates for more transit funding and density would be great, but what will they do when it comes to consolidating? Poor people on the 26, 25, and 27 are listened to. Poor people on NE 75th, where there is no bus, are ignored. Poor people on half-hourly routes that should be upgraded to 15 minutes are also ignored, at least compared to those who want their duplicative half-hourly routes to remain exactly as they are.

    • Kevin says

      Route consolidation doesn’t work for a lot of folks – especially people with disabilities or other mobility issues. The transit system needs to serve these people as well as the able-bodied who can easily make transfers. Ultimately our system should work for both crowds – people who want speed and frequency and those who just want to get to their preferred destinations without making a bunch of transfers.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        Yes, and that’s why we have paratransit for those who are disabled.

        Fixed-route service should be frequent, direct and reliable, with good transfer opportunities, and we don’t have the money to put that kind of service within a couple of blocks of everyone’s door. Hence, consolidation.

        I would add, too, that well-designed transfers require a minimum of walking. Not all our transfer points are like that today, but getting to that point is a related goal of route and stop consolidation.

      • Kevin says

        “We don’t have the money” is ultimately a lame argument (and putting everyone who has trouble making transfers on paratransit doesn’t seem like a particularly cost-effective solution in any event). Metro, like pretty much every transit system in the county, is having a crappy couple of years while the economy is down. Metro will have more money in the future even given current funding sources and there are opportunities to increase funding to support the kind of system that people in this area want. As a taxpayer and rider I want a system that combines fast, frequent service along key routes with less frequent service that provides one-seat rides to a variety of destinations.

        My sense from reading this blog is that many of the frequent contributors emphasize productivity without taking into account the social justice component of transit service. I think organizations like the Transit Riders Union can help balance the discussion.

      • Carl says

        Social justice is served by creating the most useful transit network serving as many needs as possible for the transit-dependent, even if it means some must transfer, not by running poor performing routes that only meet the needs of a few. ACRS’s lobbying wasted tens of thousands of hours of bus service that provided service to very few people.

      • Will Douglas says

        Route consolidation serves those who already have good transit, and cuts off those who have adequate (sometimes barely adequate) service. It is a classic example of how an emphasis on “data” usually just serves those who have and screws those who have not.

        A winning political coalition for more transit involves offering both increased service on the most heavily used routes while not only preserving, but improving, the quality of service on the routes that are not as well used.

        The LA Bus Riders Union was formed in part out of a concern that Metro’s focus on rail would take away from bus service in communities where ridership wasn’t high but where some people did depend on the service. In short, a focus on serving a few high capacity routes at the expense of comprehensive service across the county. The BRU took that reasonable concern and blew it up into a totally unreasonable anti-rail jihad.

        But a Transit Riders Union that refuses to play the game of feeding the well-fed and starving the hungry would be an influential organization to have around.

      • Brent says

        Most of Metro’s proposed eliminations are removals of convenience (e.g. the 42), not removals of service (e.g. the 37). I hope TRU doesn’t fall into the trap of defending empty buses that provide nothing but duplicative service.

      • Aleks says

        Yes, and that’s why we have paratransit for those who are disabled.

        Paratransit is for people who can’t handle fixed route service, because they can’t walk from their front door to the curb without assistance, or because it takes them ten minutes to board the vehicle. It is not for anyone who can’t walk four blocks. Paratransit is expensive — much more expensive than a cab, and much less convenient for people who are sufficiently able-bodied to take a cab.

        You know that I completely agree with you in general: the best transit networks are ones that are based on fast, frequent, direct, and highly-connected arterial routes. But for some people with mobility issues, those changes will make transit much harder (if not impossible) to use.

        I think it’s important to figure out a more useful (and nuanced) solution than telling everyone with a walker to just take paratransit.

      • Aleks says

        Kevin: I’m not sure what you mean by “one-seat rides”, but if it’s the normal usage of the term, then no, we really can’t afford it.

        Studies have shown that bus headways need to be below 10 minutes before people truly don’t need a schedule. Right now, Metro has only six routes with 15-minute base frequency all day every day, and only five corridors with 10-minute weekday base frequency. It’s been like that since well before the recession hit.

        I am absolutely with you that it’s important to provide geographical coverage; no matter how rich an area is, there will be someone who can’t drive (due to age, or disability, or what have you), and we should work to accommodate them. But the most effective way to do that is by connecting to somewhere with frequent service. (And again, frequent should mean that a bus comes every 10 minutes or less, all day.)

        For example, a West Seattle circulator could drop people off at the Junction. For many riders, that’s already their final destination; for others, it’s only a short hop to downtown. And it’s fairly easy for these circulators to hold for a particular downtown bus, making the outbound connection almost painless (e.g. if you get on the 5:30 PM 54 from 3rd and Pine, then you’re guaranteed to have a local bus waiting for you when you get to the junction).

        To the contrary, the emphasis on providing one-seat rides to everywhere is part of why our current system is so inefficient. There are way more than 6 buses an hour between downtown and the Junction, and yet you can easily wait over 15 minutes for a bus since the schedules don’t line up. The number of buses that overlap Link between I-5 and downtown is ludicrous.

        Transfers have a bad reputation right now, because Metro makes them so difficult. But the solution is to fix that, by improving frequency, and by realigning bus stops to minimize walking, and by building better facilities. It’s not to give up on the idea of a connection-based network.

      • Aleks says

        Will: As Brent said, very few of the proposed service changes truly cut off anyone from transit. The few changes I’m aware of that do so (i.e. in some outlying areas of West Seattle), I’m opposed to, and I will happily advocate for creating a neighborhood circulator van to preserve a lifeline level of service for those areas.

        That said, I have to disagree with your contempt for data. It’s true that 30-minutes routes are unlikely to see the ridership that they would if they were more frequent. But for a counterexample, look at the 8, which is packed at all times of day, despite being far less frequent than it should. The same is true for the 11, and the 14, and the 17, and the 128, and many other half-hour routes.

        When you look at the routes that are being revised or replaced, many of them have been around for decades, and have been steadily losing riders over the years. In contrast, you have lots of other buses that are bursting at the seams — including many buses that go through poor, minority, and transit-dependent areas. (For example, the CD will be receiving a major service upgrade in the form of frequent service on the 3.)

        If you can come up with a revenue-neutral alternative to Metro’s restructuring proposal that preserves the service you want, I’d love to see it. But without looking at data, I don’t think you’re going to get very far.

  6. dhubbz says

    If nothing else, you certainly have to give it to them for having a very slick logo. Nicely done. And I like the social justice slant.

  7. Brent says

    I’ll be at the South Park Metro open house at that time. Darn.

    One of the projects that excites me in the TRU list is the low-income ORCA. I’d be willing to take a general fare increase in order to help fund it, until alternative revenue sources can be enacted, provided that loaded ORCA product has to cover the full fare in order to get the rebate.

    Bus riders show solidarity with each other but not slowing the buses down.

    • Matthew 'Anc' Johnson says

      While it appears that an LA Style Bus Riders Union is NOT something transit supporters should get behind, do you have any proof that that is what the TRU is?

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      I think you should give the TRU the benefit of the doubt until we start to see what their organization, which is not affiliated with the LA Bus Riders Union, starts to advocate for. Keep an eye on the 42.

      • Erik G. says

        Bang on they are ugly, but not as ugly as what the BRU has done to transit advocacy in Southern California. i.e. made it impossible to have a serious dialog about getting more service because these buffoons take up all the public comment time and then disrupt meetings after they are done.

        I love all the hard work that STB has done to build relationships with decision makers, and I’ll be very sad when Eric Mann’s disciples, if that is who they are and I see nothing that tells me otherwise, move in and ruin that special environment.

        Good luck to you all, you are going to need a lot of it.

    • Mike Orr says

      It makes some sense if they mean “transit riders union” in a different sense than we’re taking it. I.e., not a group dedicated to improving transit, but a group that’s so poor it has to take transit.

      As for Seattle’s TRU, the direction of the group depends on who’s in it, and how flexible the leaders are in accommodating the members’ concern. So if you’re concerned about the direction the TRU might take, that’s a good reason to participate.

  8. says

    I, for one, am thrilled about STRU and am looking forward to supporting them in whatever way I can—including with my membership. This region really needs strong rider voices to counteract all of the other interests that influence decisions about transit service.

    Stop consolidation and route efficiencies sound good on paper, but that doesn’t mean they work well on the ground. Multiple transfers might work great if:

    1) You were able bodied.*
    2) You weren’t traveling with (for example) two kids, at least one bag, and an umbrella.
    3) You never had to travel at night or during times when it is dark outside.
    4) Transfers points were safe, convenient, and accessible. (Don’t get me started.)
    5) Buses were always (or even mostly) on time.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the on-the-ground reality for most bus riders. From my perspective, the recent “efficiencies” have been (and many that are proposed will be) a hindrance rather than a help. If my ride is slightly faster but my wait time and travel time to the stop are significantly longer, how am I benefitting? If this is about saving money, then fine, but so are a lot of changes that don’t benefit riders, and we should have a forum to speak up and say how they will affect us.

    *It’s not as simple as saying, “anyone for whom walking long distances is a hardship can just take Access.” Access is extremely expensive to operate and is not available to the average little old lady with a walker. There’s an extensive application process, and a significant number of disabled and elderly people do not qualify.

    • Brent says

      You have a lot of good points, C. But in Metro’s defense, they don’t close bus stops if someone opposes doing so. If there is someone who needs that stop, they see the sign advertising the proposed closure (Well, okay, the vision-challenged may be a hole in this process), submit an opposing comment in some medium or another, and Metro doesn’t close the stop. At least, that has been the tradition.

      Similarly, I haven’t yet seen a route get closed or truncated when opposition exists to doing so.

      The upshot is that Metro is very conservative about serving new streets, knowing that once they do so, someone bus-dependant will move there, and insist on the service becoming permanent. So, thanks to Newton’s First Law of Bus Routes, it is nearly impossible to *expand* the true service area.

      I also wholeheartedly agree that Metro didn’t get the message when the survey on the Line A showed a lot more concern about security at stops than on the bus. It’s easier to invest in such security at heavily-used transfer points. That is why I like to see Metro use train stations as transfer points. Unfortunately, Metro has had an allergy to connecting any more routes to Link, the temporary re-routes by SODO Station notwithstanding. Of course, then Metro and ST need to have more security working those stations.

      As for problems with the restructure proposal, specifics would help. Metro has a history of listening to input and adjusting their proposals.

      • says

        Metro recently closed my bus stop and *never even responded* to the feedback that I and several of my neighbors sent when they posted the impending closure sign. The “one person complaining” rule hasn’t been my experience at all.

      • Beavis McGee says

        “they don’t close bus stops if someone opposes doing so”.

        Uh – yeah they do. All the time.

    • Kevin says

      Great post Bus Chick. To your list I’d add:

      6) You could be confident there was space available on buses at transfer points.

      A big concern I have about Metro’s 9/12 proposal is having to transfer at points where I’m concerned that seats or standing room may not be available.

      • Aleks says

        6) You could be confident there was space available on buses at transfer points.

        The more frequent a route is, the more capacity there is, and the more likely you can get a seat.

        Just sayin’… ;)

    • Mike Orr says

      Metro has shied away from closing bus stops if one person complains, and the council has overridden Metro to keep unproductive segments. But that was all before last summer. Now Metro’s under pressure to make significant efficiencies within a year or the Legislature won’t give it a permanent funding source when the $20 fee expires. The Council also realizes it has to support these reorganizations now or it’ll be the beginning of the end for Metro. Neighborhoods that are losing bus service should think about how they can maintain circulation without Metro’s help. Perhaps a neighborhood-supported van service (which would be cheaper than a bus?), or a LID to purchase service hours from Metro.

      Although I do wonder, if neighborhoods start seriously thinking about a circulator, will people then say, “I don’t want to pay a levy for a route I never ride”, and then come full circle to Metro’s stance on those routes. (And would they then give Metro credit for thinking rationally, or would they still complain that “Metro yanked my bus service.”)

    • Aleks says

      Re #1: I’m 100% with you about Access. We need more people saying what you’re saying. I think there’s some overzealousness on this blog about throwing people into the “disability” bucket, and then ignoring them from the perspective of service planing.

      Regarding all of your other points, my response is simply that Metro is still learning what it means to build a bus network, as opposed to a bunch of bus routes.

      I think that Metro seriously needs to focus on a few things:

      – Frequent routes need to have sub-10-minute service, all day, every day.
      – Every major connection point — i.e. every intersection between frequent routes — needs to have signaled, marked crosswalks, and well-lit, warm, accessible, and *safe* places to wait.
      – Every major connection point needs to have shelters that have sufficiently high platforms so that you can easily wheel anything you need onto or off of the bus, without having to wait for a ramp or (worse) a lift.

      I obviously can’t speak to your situation. But what I can say is that my partner has significant mobility issues — to the point that she often needs to stop for a break about once per block when walking on even a very shallow uphill. We often miss buses — and have to wait another 30 minutes for the next one — as a result.

      So, from my perspective, knowing that the next bus was only 10 minutes away would be a godsend.

      One last note about transfers. Yes, it’s always nice when one bus takes you door to door. But what about when it doesn’t? Just today, we had to ride from Capitol Hill to Greenwood, which meant a connection between a 30-minute bus (the 11) and a 15-minute one (the 5). For every one origin-destination pair that Metro offers a one-seat ride for, there are 10 more for which you have to transfer. The current routes work for a lucky minority of people, but a system of fast, *frequent* (i.e. 10 minutes or less, all day) routes, and infrastructure that made transferring truly easy, would benefit everyone.

      • Kevin says

        I agree with a lot of your points Aleks but I have to disagree with you about the transfers. The current one-seat routes don’t work for just a “lucky minority” – they connect a ton of folks with the primary destinations they use transit to reach – chief among these destinations being Downtown and the U District.

        In my neighborhood Metro is proposing getting rid of the 26. My experience on this route is that there are a good number of folks who use it to get to Fremont but most are going from Green Lake, Wallingford, and Fremont to Downtown. Last Friday the southbound 26 local I was on (first bus after the end of 26 Express service) was standing room only by the time we hit 40th and Wallingford then the aisle was pretty full when we got to Fremont then (after about 10% of the folks got off) absolutely packed from there to South Lake Union – and this was on a holiday that a lot of folks have off. Under Metro’s 9/12 proposal you’d have around 40 folks from this bus alone having to transfer (either from the new 63 to one of the 70s in the U District or from the 31 or new 32 to the 5 in Fremont to get Downtown. Sure some of these folks would go to the 16 but for a lot of people (particularly the folks south of 45th and east of Stone) it’s not a viable option.

        I don’t think transfers are unreasonable for infrequent or low demand trips but for daily commuting and frequent trips introducing transfers to existing one seats is a big waste of time for a lot of people and can seriously damage reliability.

      • Aleks says

        Kevin,

        First of all, the “one-seat rides” I’m talking about are ones like the existing 2/13, or the 11/125. Do you really think that a majority of riders on the 2 are going from Upper Queen Anne, or even Seattle Center, to Madrona? Or from First Hill to West Seattle? No way. The number of people who ride the bus all the way through downtown is almost zero.

        Second, of the restructuring proposals, almost none of them send a bus to anywhere other than the U-District or downtown. Even the 63 will go to the U-District. Metro runs very few routes from nowhere to nowhere, and the few that it does (like the 38) are being cut.

        And third, my original point still stands. Yes, for many of those 26 riders, their final destination may be downtown. But others might be heading just about anywhere, especially outside of commute hours. If we focus on one-seat rides to those destinations at the expense of transfers, then we’re failing to help the large portion (if not majority) of riders who are simply going downtown because it’s the only convenient transfer point.

      • Kevin says

        Aleks-

        We’re using the term differently. When I talk about a one-seat ride I mean something like the current 26 from points north to Downtown – not the whole route (like the 26 turns into the 124). My sense as a longtime 26 rider (and someone who works Downtown and sees a lot of my neighbors and fellow riders down there) is that the vast majority of the folks on the 26 are taking the bus from the northern neighborhoods to Downtown and South Lake Union. There are a few folks who might be transferring to go up to Capitol Hill or points further south, but most are going Downtown. Continuing to have a bus that gets the majority of these folks from the start to the finish of their trip without a transfer is in my mind a responsible use of transit resources. Currently having those folks who do need to transfer doing that Downtown currently gives them access to just about any destination – they likely will only need to make one transfer to complete their trip.

      • JohnS says

        Honest question: how much of the transfer shelter stuff is Metro’s responsibility? How much of that falls to the City? Where does SPD fit in vs. the transit police?

        Lighting is key, and is incredibly difficult to coordinate between Metro and the City. I love the solar-powered lit shelters as it makes that whole process so much easier.

    • Beavis McGee says

      Not to mention that ACCESS doesn’t allow for spontaneous travel, must be scheduled in advance, and often requires the people who use it to endure rides much longer and circuitous than an accessible standard transit ride so that ACCESS can schedule pickups and dropoff for customers with varied needs in a cost-effective way.

    • Brent says

      That’s what I said when I saw Paula Hammond as a guest speaker at an STB meetup. ;)

      I take everything both of them have to say with a huge grain of salt. If it turns out Mr. Bible is a prodigious bus rider, I’ll be even more interested in what he has to say.

    • Erik G. says

      From:

      http://thetransitcoalition.us/BRUtruth.htm

      “The Bus Riders Union (BRU) describes itself as a transit advocacy group dedicated toward fighting bus overcrowding on Metro Buses. The BRU was founded around 1994 by Eric Mann as a project of the Labor/Community Strategy Center of which Mann is the Executive Director. Essentially, the BRU believes that Metro bus service should be frequent and extensive as possible, while enabling most patrons to have a seat on the majority of trip with minimal fares. They are against any investment in urban rail, commuter rail and even rapid bus service contending that they only serve affluent white people while ignoring the core market of Metro’s transit service – poor people of color. Because they view this as a civil rights issue, they sued Metro in 1995 in Federal Court over these issues and entered into a consent decree agreement with Metro, gaining concessions on fares, bus passes, expanded bus service and improved bus frequency on the most crowded lines. The BRU derives its funding from large individual contributions and a small amount from foundation grants. It has received legal support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights groups. The BRU is also involved with pro Palestinian activities, and other causes which do not appear directly related to Metro bus service.”

  9. says

    The Seattle TRU is not in any way affiliated with the LA Bus Riders Union, nor are we part of the “international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.” As someone who grew up after the end of the Cold War, I must admit I find such accusations quixotic and bewildering. But then I also find the LA BRU’s reference to the ‘Third World peoples’ out of date.

    I take it as a compliment that our organization looks like it must have some bigger entity behind it. But the fact is that it grew organically out of the Metro cuts fight, and we organizers are all poor and/or working people who depend on the bus. Apparently some find it hard to believe that this class of people can also be competent, skilled and dedicated enough produce everything we have done, with volunteer labor and funded overwhelmingly out of our own meager incomes. But this depressed economy is churning out more and more people like us every day. And so long as we continue to be treated as disposable, we will have no choice but the put our skills to work in fighting back against attacks on the basic social services we depend on.

    • Matthew 'Anc' Johnson says

      Scott, thanks for taking the time and answering directly. By looking at the BRU and seeing the similarity in logos and colors, I’m sure you can understand why many thought there to be a connection. And by looking at the damage done to LAs transit by them I’m sure you can understand why people would be wary of such a group trying to put down roots here.

    • Erik G. says

      Thanks for the late reply.

      I appreciate your response.

      And I hope you’ll change your T-shirt color when possible.

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