Metro: Profits Over People

Below is a speech given by Ms J at the Transit Justice Rally with the Save Our System Coalition on June 29, 2017.

Good evening. My name is Jourgette Reid-Sillah. I am a resident of the District of Columbia and a patron of Metro Access. Before I became a MA rider I would see the vans everywhere and think isn’t that nice that Metro is seeing that those people who can’t access the bus have service. In fact Metro isn’t doing anything out of the goodness of their heart. It is the law that requires that the service be provided for persons with disabilities. Now I am one of “those people” I have a better idea of how things work. Metro Access are private companies that contract with Metro to provide the service. As we know all know the goal of a private company is to make a profit. Metro Access’s goal is to make money, Profit over people.

If it is more profitable for a client to wait passed the 30 minute window, profit wins.
If it is more profitable for a client to remain on a van more than 2 hours, profit wins.
If it is more profitable to have a GPS system that is programed to take a longer route, profit wins.

I have personally experienced being on the van with another client. We both live in SEDC. I am going to NWDC and the other client is going to Hyattsville. Although I was to be dropped off first the other client was going to her dialysis appointment and would be late. I heard her ask the dispatcher “Will Metro Access be able to return the minutes of life I may lose for having to get off the machine early when MA comes to pick me up?” This is a life issue for many of the clients that use this service. Profits over people. Please note that even though MA clients are persons with disabilities MANY work every day. Many for both State and Federal governments. In case you are wondering we do not ride for free. Each trip requires a pre-determined fair that is calculated by some “algorithm” that causes your fair to change. This can be a challenge to those on a fixed income. While Metro Access picks profit over people many clients must decide life over death. Which would you choose?

I am a member of ONE DC, an organization that believes in equitable situations for all peoples. The People's Platform Manifesto speaks of having access to safe and affordable transportation so that we can travel between our homes, jobs, schools and recreational spaces.