For over a decade, the Transportation Justice Working Group (TJWG) has brought together community-based organizations, transit riders, and advocates from throughout the Bay Area. We provide policy analysis, coordinate campaigns, and support a movement to build a more equitable and accountable transportation system. TJWG raises awareness about the consequences of local and regional transportation policy-making. We document the unequal benefits and burdens our transportation system places on riders, and we defend the transit rights of low-income riders of color and those who rely most on public transportation – workers, students, seniors, and the disabled community. Facilitated by Urban Habitat, the TJWG also serves as the Local Transit Win Network for the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network.
Our vision for a just and equitable transportation system includes:
- An Equitable Transit System: Equitable transit conducts a race and class analysis of the system and its investments. It focuses on serving those who rely on transit most, as opposed to serving only the needs of affluent and suburban commuters. It prioritizes investments in existing transit systems over costly highway and transit expansion capital projects that serve relatively few riders. This kind of system is not only the most equitable but is also the most cost-effective and most meaningfully addresses the climate crisis.
- Accessibility: Accessible transit provides around-the-clock, frequent, and reliable transit service to essential destinations. Transit systems must support the critical daily travel needs of people without reliable access to a car. Transit service must be reliable and well-coordinated to allow for trips to school, work, shopping, recreation and medical care.
- Affordability: Affordable transit prioritizes investments that address transportation barriers for low-income people and communities of color, such as reducing the high cost of fares and transfers.
- Advance Environmental and Public Health: Transit vehicles and the power sources that move them should improve air quality in overburdened communities, support regional GHG emissions targets, and contribute to the transition away from the carbon-based economy. Communities should have access to safe, clean, and well-maintained transit vehicles and facilities.
- Public Participation and Accountability: Community members must have a meaningful voice in decision-making, planning, and investments to ensure that these reflect community priorities. Public agencies should facilitate community participation in decision-making, particularly by those communities most often excluded from the process, such as low-income people, people of color, limited-English speaking individuals, youth, and immigrants.
More Regional Funding = More Local Transit
Urban Habitat and members of the Transportation Justice Working Group are fighting to increase regional funding to put more local transit service on the streets, particularly bus service for low-income communities of color, youth, seniors, and working class communities. In 2013, the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network won an amendment to the Bay Area’s Regional Plan (Plan Bay Area) that commits the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to developing a regional funding program to increase local transit operations. For over a decade, MTC and the region have prioritized rail and other capital expansion projects whenever new transportation funding became available. These projects disproportionately serve suburban communities, often to meet the needs of more affluent “choice riders” while transit-dependent communities face deep service cuts and fare increases. These communities continue to wait for an expansion of basic local bus service, even as the Bay Area economy booms.