On Saturday, Occupy AC-Transit, a subcommittee of Occupy Oakland and Occupy Oakland’s BBQ Committee, will co-host a rider-driver Speakout at Arroyo Park in East Oakland. Community members on both sides of the fare transaction will talk about AC-Transit’s institutional racism and classism and how it impacts the lives of both riders and drivers.
Along with the Speakout, there will be campaign buttons and t-shirt making which will provide visible signs of solidarity with the ongoing action as it ramps up in the coming months. There will also be workshops, music, and of course—free food!
The campaign, which kicked off over a month ago, has been quietly growing. East Bay residents hope to see a return of the routes that have been cut in poor communities, a just fare policy, and the reversal of driver concessions when rank and filer’s contract expires next July.
The campaign is important, says an Oakland resident named Linda, “because we deserve a just transportation system that will provide reasonable and affordable fares for people of all colors in our communities.”
The way federal funds are distributed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, points out organizers, is systematically racist, with routes in white and upper class neighborhoods, and those going to centers of commerce being prioritized, while routes between poor neighborhoods—routes needed by caretakers, family members, and friends– are being cut dramatically. In addition, more funding is given to BART and CalTrain—systems that carry wealthier commuters—than to the bus system.
Currently, organizers are asking drivers to honor expired transfers which are most often used by the bus system’s poorest riders. Drivers say they often do this out of solidarity with people’s economic conditions, but this campaign creates a deliberate political framework, which aims to build solidarity between frustrated riders and overworked drivers.
Occupy AC-Transit invites riders, drivers, and all concerned or curious community members for a big BBQ at Arroyo Park from 2-5PM.
Media Contact: Mike King, Occupy Oakland
Linda, Occupy Oakland, bus rider