Today is Transit Equity Day, in honor of Rosa Park’s birthday, February 4th. Coincidentally, we at Green Neighbors DC, also wanted to organize a seminar on transportation in DC, and why it should be free. Although we’ve been wanting to organize one for a while (darn COVID), we had special impetus with Councilmember Charles Allen’s reintroduction of a bill (B23-0698; again reintroduced due to darn COVID delaying things) to give a $100/month credit for DC residents on their metro cards. This comes very close to many, but not all, in being a major step toward free public transit in DC via Metro.
Chris Laskowski, Legislative Director for DC Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6, was invited to present an overview of the bill, its goal, its history, and its future. Three other transit and climate experts and advocates were invited to speak – with the climate emphasis being a huge driver for the need for public transit:
- Basav Sen, Director, Climate Policy Project, Institute for Policy Studies
- Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of US Climate Action Network, and an ANC Commissioner in Ward 6 (Allen’s ward)
- Fritz Edler, Transportation mode-shift activist and veteran railroader community alliance organizer
Our Dr. Annette Olson, Executive Director of Climate Steps and Lead, Green Neighbors DC, was the facilitator.
It was a great discussion! – regarding the potential positive impacts, namely that of reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions, and of revitalizing our downtown even more. But we also discussed ensuring that equity needs were met, such as what is the definition here for “DC resident?” Concerns were stated regarding DC’s overarching outlook on transit – how our entire city depends on how people move within it, and how it should be incorporated more into interconnected planning, such as for schools, and into the budget. And how free metro would facilitate all of us – and reduce pollution.
“What kind of society do we want to live in is a question we must ask ourselves. Transit is a necessity and thus a public good, and thus must be considered as such in planning. – not just as a line item.” Fritz Edler, Transportation mode-shift activist.