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BRU, T4A, Transit Riders Rally to Stop Bus Cuts: “The Buses Are Our Legs!”

12:59 PM PDT on September 20, 2011

Picture from today's rally courtesy of the Bus Riders Union

Earlier today, the Bus Riders Union, Transportation for America and a host of other urban advocates rallied at the corner of Wilshire and Vermont, a hot intersection for both bus and rail riders to make the case that clean, safe and efficient transit options must be a priority for the federal government.

Current proposals put forward in the House of Representatives by the Republican Majority would slash 37% of federal funding for public transportation and all surface transportation programs.  In response, transit riders and advocates have dubbed today, "Don't X Out Public Transit" Day.

It's not news that Metro has cut over 1,000,000 hours of service in recent years, and if the Republican leadership's plan becomes federal law, further cuts would certainly be coming even as Mayor Villaraigosa and the Metro Board of Directors is scrambling to maintain and even in some cases restore bus service.

“For the millions of Americans and 100,000s of Angelenos without cars, public transit is the difference between having and not having a way to go to the market, the doctor, to school, to a job interview,” said Crystal McMillan, Organizer of the Transit Riders for Public Transportation. “The buses are our legs. Where can we go without them? Now is the time for our government to be investing in public transportation and our infrastructure, not cutting.”

A recent report by the Brookings Institute rated Los Angeles as one of the best places to be car-free as far as access to transit is concerned.  While over 90% of transit riders have easy access to transit, the same report showed that the transit they have access to didn't take them to job centers.

Nationally, the American Public Transit Advocates (APTA) has been making the case for years that investing in transit is a great way to boost the economy.  According to APTA for every one dollar invested in public transportation, four dollars in economic returns is generated- and every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates or supports 36,000 jobs.  The House Republican proposal would result in California losing 83,000 transit jobs and $2.2 billion in federal transit funds delaying job creating transit construction projects and straining the ability of transit agencies to provide the service transit riders need to get to their jobs.

Nationally, over 84% of transit agencies are already cutting transit lines or raising fares even as transit ridership, and transit dependency increase.

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