Pages tagged "transit justice"
Clean Energy DC!
In December 2019, after years of relentless community pressure by the DC Climate Coalition, the DC Council passed the Clean Energy DC Act:
- The District will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2032. This puts DC on the fastest timeline to 100% renewable electricity among states in the country, faster even than California!
- The bill creates groundbreaking efficiency standards for existing buildings. Buildings account for 74% of the District’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- This landmark legislation takes aim at emissions from electricity and natural gas use. It scales up the existing Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF) utility fee, which will raise tens of millions of dollars to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and provide assistance to low-income DC residents.
- The Clean Energy DC Act will fund local programs to assist low-income residents as the city transitions to more sustainable clean energy systems, and create a clean energy workforce development program.
- Finally, the Act begins to tackle transportation, the #1 driver of climate pollution nationwide. It does so by adjusting the vehicle excise tax to incentivize clean cars and make owning dirty vehicles more expensive. The Mayor is now authorized to put a price on transportation fuels with a DC carbon fee if Virginia and Maryland commit to the same, and to join DC to emerging regional efforts like the Transportation Climate Initiative.
The DC Climate Coalition will continue to push for progressive environmental policies in DC. If you are interested in serving as a ONE DC representative on the DC Climate Coalition, please email Claire at [email protected]
End Pay to Play Politics!
In early December, the DC Pay to Play Coalition organized to pass sweeping campaign finance reform in the District of Columbia including a new pay to play law. The DC Council passed the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2018 (B22-0107) unanimously on December 4th. Mayor Bowser did not veto the bill, but did not sign it either, which means it will become law after an obligatory 30 day Congressional review period. The legislation will:
- Restrict major government contractors from making campaign contributions to those responsible for issuing the contracts, addressing ongoing concerns about “pay to play” politics
- Ensure the independence form political interference of the campaign finance enforcement agency
- Enhance the disclosure requirements for money in District elections and require that “independent” expenditures be truly independent of candidates
- Mandate training of all candidates and campaign treasurers of the campaign finance and ethics laws
Congratulations to everyone in the DC Pay to Play coalition! Jews United for Justice, DC for Democracy, Campaign Legal Center, ONE DC, Empower DC, People For the American Way, the Ward 3 Democrats, DC NOW, Franciscan Action Network, the Brennan Center for Justice and DC for Reasonable Development.
Decriminalize Fare Evasion!
In January 2019, the “Fare Evasion Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2018 was successfully passed. This bill makes evading fare on WMATA buses and trains a civil offense punishable by a fine, rather than a crime that can result in arrest, jail time, and/or a fine of up to $300.The zero-tolerance criminal enforcement of low-level offenses like fare evasion by Metro Transit Police has a negative impact on all District residents. It has proven especially harmful to young people and to poor Black and brown residents who rely on public transit the most and who are disproportionately targeted by police enforcement.
After the DC Council voted to pass the bill in late 2018, Mayor Bowser vetoed the bill. With her veto, the Mayor put in jeopardy this important criminal justice reform that will prevent hundreds of Black DC residents from unwarranted arrests, jail-time, and criminal records for failure to pay a $2 fare (91% of fare evasion enforcement has targeted Black riders). Thanks to broad community support, the Council voted 11-2 to override the Mayor's veto, protecting the bill.
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.
On June 29, ONE DC members joined the Save Our System Coalition in organizing DC residents and community members at the Columbia Heights Metro station for a Transit Justice Rally to express our discontent with the Metro system, with the goal of bringing awareness to how the community can fight for People's Platform principle #8, Access to safe and affordable transportation so that we can travel between our homes, jobs, schools, and recreational spaces.
In the past two years, construction has hindered the daily ride for many Washingtonians who commute via Metro, and WMATA has done a poor job of providing alternate transportation for those of us who rely on this system. Despite the community’s concerns, WMATA has chosen to ignore those who depend on Metro as their primary means of transportation, and has implemented new policies that further restrict our access to safe and affordable transportation. Many Metro riders feel we are “paying more for less” since WMATA implemented changes such as price increases, less frequent transit, and an end to late night trains.
Starting on June 26, 2017, Metro bus fares increased from $1.75 to $2.00. Metro rail added a $.10 fare increase during peak hours and $.25 during off-peak hours. Metro has also eliminated or reduced 33 travel routes in the entire DMV area, and cut 25% of Metro rail service during rush hour. When Metro outlined these changes in their budget and service changes, they failed to recognize how these changes will negatively affect thousands of people.
In addition to these flaws in the Metro bus and rail system, Metro Access, a privately contracted van service that provides transportation to disabled people in the District, has continued to disappoint riders. At the rally on June 29, ONE DC member Ms. Jourgette Reid-Sillah explained how Metro Access ensures that they make the maximum profit by taking longer routes and waiting past the 30-minute wait time, proving how they value “profits over people.” She points how this service exists because of a law requiring transportation services for those with disabilities, not “out of the goodness of their hearts.” Once again, Metro will do what they have to do in any given situation to capitalize off of those who use their services out of necessity, making it clear that WMATA’s main agenda is to maximize profit for private companies, rather than provide safe, accessible transportation for those of us who need it.
Moving forward, this fight doesn’t stop with the Transit Rally. The Save Our System Coalition continues to fight for transit justice by calling the community to action. If you wish to support, here are a few things you can do to help: