Transit Riders, Faith and Community Groups Demand Elected Leaders Make Transit Funding a Top Priority
With less than 5 weeks away from the end of the session, members of ISAIAH, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and other community groups assembled on April 16 at the State Capitol for a march and rally to demand a comprehensive transportation bill that includes dedicated and sustainable funding for public transit. The march was organized by transit advocacy organizations that share a strong commitment to winning increases in transit funding in 2015.
Current House GOP Plan Would Fall Drastically Short of What Transit Riders Need
“Our state is at a crossroads,” said Rev. Paul Slack, pastor at New Creation Church and ISAIAH President. “Our elected leaders are debating transportation funding plans that will impact racial equity in Minnesota. As people of faith we believe these are moral decisions that affect the health and vitality of our families and communities. We need courageous leadership. We need to advance a responsible, comprehensive plan that serves human dignity and makes deep and loving investments in our communities.”
The group believes the current House GOP transportation plan falls drastically short of what transit riders need. They point out that under this plan:
- Metro Transit would face drastic service cuts, affecting suburban and core city residents and businesses that rely on it.
- Suburbs such as Maple Grove, Plymouth, Eden Prairie, Prior Lake and Eagan (already more heavily subsidized than the core cities) would see their transit funding increased.
- No new light rail lines would be developed for the foreseeable future.
- General fund contributions to Metro Transit would be phased out. At the same time, road funding is being proposed to come from the General Fund, which would mean cuts to education and health and human services – and transit.
Participants of the march traveled through the Capitol halls and tunnels and stopped at various points to deliver transit stories. Harry Maddox, transit organizer with NOC, was one of the people who shared their story. “Transit should meet the needs of people who use it,” said Harry. “We need transit that gets more people to more jobs more quickly and reliably.”
Samantha Jo Beck, a member of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) also shared her story and stressed how vital public transit is for students. “Young people ride the bus and we rely on it to get to the places we need. It’s time we close racial inequities with reliable routes and adequate funding.”
Organizations involved in the march and supporting increased funding for transit as part of a comprehensive package include Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), ISAIAH, Catholic Charities of St. Paul & Minneapolis, Fresh Energy, MPIRG, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities, TakeAction MN, ATU Local 1005, MN Center for Environmental Advocacy, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Summit Academy, and Minnesota Environmental Partnership.