Posted on

Transit Update Public Transit A Choice or Right?

Transit Update Public Transit A Choice or Right?

As a new Regional Transit Plan is discussed it's vital we consider ESSENTIAL Riders. Lack of equity in bus service and planning replicates the racism that has historically plagued our transit policy. Click To Tweet

Public transit is a hot topic. The lack of adequate transit has been cited for Amazon’s rejection. Many don’t connect this failure to the race-based policies of our region. There are many recent examples of the shift toward private service and choice options rather than equity for essential riders. Quicken Loans, Wayne State and Henry Ford could use their influence to promote a robust DDOT system rather than use private shuttles. Click To Tweet Also, Quicken and others decided to use our public tax dollars – over $70 million from state, local, and federal funds to build the QLine.  The reliance on public services and the diversion of public funds contributes to inequality.

A modern public transit system responds to the needs of a diverse population. There are as many types of riders as there are people. Here we consider two particular types of bus riders – Essential & Choice Riders…

Essential riders ride the bus for their day-to-day economic and social survival.  They use transit to get to important institutions like schools, banks or credit unions, social services, healthcare, and jobs. They endure neighborhood service that is unreliable, slow, and unavailable when needed most. Essential bus riders have various personal circumstances that make car ownership impossible.

“Choice-rider” is an industry term used by public transit providers that refers to individuals that ride the bus as an option. Choice riders may have access and the means to afford and use a car, but instead “choose” to ride the bus. More often than not They also have the option to use smartphone app-based ride-hailing services like UBER and LYFT.

Public transit authorities cater to choice riders to lure them out of cars and into public transit.  They fit buses with amenities like Wi-Fi, app-based fare and boarding technology, and offer express/commuter routes from more affluent neighborhoods to business/employment districts

Some new services only get people from around the region in and around downtown. These services often give choice riders the option to bypass the very neighborhoods where services are inadequate for Essential riders. This lack of equity in bus service and planning replicates the racism that has historically plagued our transit policy in #Detroit and the region. Click To Tweet

A just and equitable  public transit system serves all types of riders. 

Here are some signs that Essential Riders suffer from transit injustice

  • Nearly flat funding has been maintained for DDOT, at $135 million with little emphasis on improving the State Fair Transit Center & little improvement for bus stops & shelters.
  • The creation of routes  that serve areas targeted for investment  with express/commuter service.
  • The expansion of night and weekend service prioritizes main roads and neighborhoods where new population increases are planned.
  • The failure to improve service in all neighborhoods forces families & individuals to ride for hours on a disconnected, under-resourced & unreliable bus system.

Transit Justice is a Civil Rights Issue

The struggle for civil rights and racial equity in public transportation is rooted in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which successfully challenged and ended bus segregation. This gave birth to the modern Civil Rights Movement and resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VI regulations that ensure bus riders are not discriminated on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, and ability/disability status.

It’s in the City Charter!

“The people have a right to expect city government to provide for its residents, decent housing; job opportunities; convenient and comfortable transportation; recreational facilities and activities; cultural enrichment, including libraries and art and historical museums; clean air and waterways, safe drinking water and a sanitary, environmentally sound city.”

“The people have a right to know the rules and regulations governing dealings between the City and the public and to a means for review of administrative decisions.”

Download an easy to print black and white version of this Transit Update to share with your neighbors. 

Take Action! Make Some Calls! Share it Out!

City Council Members

Mayor Duggan

DDOT Leadership

We demand participatory decision-making between riders/residents and DDOT for input on routes and changes in fares and scheduling. #Detroit Click To Tweet

Bus riders must have a say!

Join the Detroit People’s
Platform Transit Justice Team!
Contact Renard Monczunski
renard@detroitpeoplesplatform.org
(313) 338-9396