On Friday, July 10th, PPT Member Rahul Amruthapuri joined immigrant justice orgs Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance, New Sanctuary Movement, CWS, NACASEK, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the Value Our Families coalition to speak to Senator Toomey’s office about the measures that immigrants need to in order to recover from Covid-19 and anti-immigrant policy in the US. The coalition’s demands included measures to protect immigrants and refugees during the pandemic, defunding hate, and protect family-based immigration.
Rahul added to these demands by preparing a submission to remind Senator Toomey that public transit systems are essential to immigrant justice, economic justice, and worker justice. If US states are to safely get past Covid-19, US transit systems will need $32B in transit funding in the next pandemic recovery bill.
The time to act is now.
Senator Toomey: will you stand up for Pennsylvania & pass $32B for public transit to move us all past Covid-19?
Submission from Pittsburghers for Public Transit by PPT Member Rahul Amruthapuri
On behalf of transit riders and operators and in order to support immigrants, essential workers, and our nation in moving through COVID-19, we must ask Sen. Toomey to support the inclusion of $32 billion in the next stimulus package for the nation’s transit agencies.
COVID-19 has pushed our transit agencies and the states that rely on them to the brink of disaster. Various analyses have shown that the CARES Act emergency transit funding for large agencies will run out by the end of the year, and our nation’s transit systems will again face catastrophic shortfalls. Specific to our state, the transit agencies in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh can face a $726 million shortfall even after accounting for the CARES Act funding.
The $32 billion in emergency transit funding is also a racial justice issue. Based on existing data, we know that over one-third of those who are using public transit are workers commuting to essential jobs. It is also well known that people of color disproportionately represent essential workers and not funding public transit will not only result in these workers unable to get to their workplaces but also prevent them from providing for their families and accessing vital goods and services. Here, we would like to point out immigrants represent up to 12% of the workforce in certain essential industry sectors in Pennsylvania and that immigrants are more dependent on public transit than others. Without the services of these individuals, we would have to face food shortages, and shortage of healthcare and social care personnel.
While distributing masks we heard from riders and workers about overcrowding on buses and bus stops, bus pass-ups, service cuts, and the lack of PPE. The $32 billion in emergency funding can prevent these issues. In the absence of this funding, transit agencies will have to further cut services, which will lead to more overcrowding and increased health risks for essential workers and others dependent on public transit. In addition, service cuts will result in more people shifting to personal vehicles that will cause increased traffic congestion and pollution.
We, thereby, implore Sen. Toomey to join his colleague Sen. Casey in supporting the $32 billion emergency funding for transit agencies in the next stimulus package so that public transit can continue being the lifeline and economic driver it is.
TransitCenter (2020, June 17). Estimated Financial Shortfalls of U.S. Transit Agencies Exceed HEROES Act Funding. Retrieved from https://transitcenter.org/estimated-financial-shortfalls-of-u-s-transit-agencies-exceed-heroes-act-funding/
TransitCenter (2020, June). TransitCenter Analysis of CARES Act and HEROES Act (June 2020). Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xNUO7UtamN6WKgXtrkGaNkjNLMmXbgoB7t5gKMxA3dE/edit
TransitCenter (2020, March 24) Transit Is Essential: 2.8 Million U.S. Essential Workers Ride Transit to Their Jobs. Retrieved from https://transitcenter.org/2-8-million-u-s-essential-workers-ride-transit-to-their-jobs/
McNicholas, C., & Poydock, M. (2020, May 19). Who are essential workers? A comprehensive look at their wages, demographics, and unionization rate. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.epi.org/blog/who-are-essential-workers-a-comprehensive-look-at-their-wages-demographics-and-unionization-rates/
American Immigration Council (2020, June 9).Fact Sheet: Immigrants in Pennsylvania. Retrieved from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-in-pennsylvania
United States Census Bureau (2018). S0201: SELECTED POPULATION PROFILE IN THE UNITED STATES. American Community Survey.