Transit riders and workers win $14 billion to keep their systems running during COVID-19. But more organizing will be needed in 2021.
We did it. With the stimulus package just ratified in the US. House and Senate, we have won $14 billion in emergency COVID relief for public transit. That will stave off the imminent transit cuts that were poised to pass with SEPTA in Philly and elsewhere across the Commonwealth. It is a down payment on transit to keep our systems and our riders moving, and something we can celebrate as this year comes to a close.
At a time of many hardships for transit riders and transit workers, it is an enormous relief that we are not also faced with critical cuts in access to food, healthcare and other needs, and nor facing imminent layoffs or supply shortages for transit workers due to funding.
Under this legislation, the Pittsburgh region will see an anticipated $162 million, and the Philadelphia region is set to receive $328 million.
For those of you outside of the Philly/Pittsburgh orbit, you can see a helpful detailed region-by-region breakdown and analysis of the federal legislation as it applies to transit on TransitCenter’s excellent blog.
This is the culmination of your work alongside thousands of other transit riders and workers across the country. It’s been a wild ride: from the beautiful 100+ transit rider call organized with our sisters and brothers at the Philly Transit Riders Union, to the statewide sign-on letter to our national delegation with more than 60 organizational signatories, to the Senator Casey Transit Town Hall with our ATU and TWU partners, and the TRUST Riders National Day of Action highlighting riders’ voices in 11 cities nationwide (check out this great video recap from PPT’s own Dean Mougianis!) Our friends at Transit Forward Philly and 5th Square also hosted a powerful Transit Forum in November to uplift the National Campaign for Transit Justice principles, which took us over the finish line.
The fact that our federal legislators recognized that public transit cannot become yet another casualty of the pandemic—that truly our lives, our livelihoods, our economy, our environment are all at stake—is a testament to how strongly you have made your voices heard.
So thank you. Thank you, too, to our Senate and House delegation who voted to #SaveTransit. There is more work to be done in the New Year to ensure that transit is fully funded to survive this crisis, and that federal transit funding achieves parity with highways and bridges, but for now, a chance to rest and celebrate.
Wishing all riders and workers a safe and restful holiday. Let’s continue to organize together in the New Year!
In Solidarity and Love,
Laura and the PPT family