Submitted by Joelle Rudney

Dear Editor,

February 4 marks Transit Equity Day, a national day of action to commemorate the birthday of Rosa Parks by declaring that public transportation is a civil right.

More than 65 years have passed since Rosa Parks stayed in her seat; yet, public transit, so critical to our whole economy and social life, is still not evenly accessible to all. People of color, who are twice as likely to use buses or trains to go to work have longer than average commutes than white people. It can take for instance much longer for an Anacostia resident to get to their work in downtown DC than to a resident of the mostly white suburbs of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Public transportation plays an essential part in job creation, business retention, and access to all kinds of social activities in the Washington area. Yet once again, it is facing drastic budget cuts due to lower ridership during the Covid pandemic. These cuts will inevitably hurt less affluent minorities whose bus routes in less desirable neighborhoods may be discontinued or reduced.

Access to public transit affects quality of life in many ways: it can save time for family life and social events but it is directly related to people’s health as well. Transportation accounts for one third of US carbon emissions, which in turn cause pollution and respiratory illnesses, more prevalent among people of color.

This Transit Equity Day should therefore be an opportunity for city developers, transit authorities and us as a society to plan and invest in clean, equitable transportation systems across our region and our country.

Sincerely,

Joelle Rudney

Washington, DC

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