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by Tom Bolema
Monday, Jun. 02, 2003 at 4:24 PM
Greens say MTA policies are skewed against the working poor
GREEN PARTY OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY
For immediate release
Friday, May 30, 2003
LOS ANGELES, CA - Members of the Green Party of Los Angeles County are outraged at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s decision last week to raise the prices of its passes and eliminate transfers. The fare increase poses an undue hardship on a half million public transit-dependent Angelinos who have a median income of $12,500 a year.
"This is not a transportation issue. It is a civil rights issue, "said Jim Rickabaugh, a member of both the Green Party and the Bus Riders Union. "This is about solidarity with poor people of color who spend a considerable portion of their time on Earth waiting, and waiting and waiting for a late and dangerously overcrowded bus."
Four of the five Los Angeles County Supervisors voted "yes" to the price hikes including Democrats Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky. Yvonne Burke placed the sole "no" vote.
“In a county dominated by Democrats, it’s rather amazing how many Democrats supported the price hikes," said Joe Crompton of the Hollywood/Silverlake Greens Local. "It's even more amazing how the County Democratic Party refused to oppose the fare increase. Are we to think that all of these Democrats have just been masquerading as pro-labor, pro-student, and pro-seniors?”
"The MTA board took public comment on April 12th, but that was just a token gesture,” said Rickabaugh. "The four no votes cast on May 22nd were nothing more than moves to save political face. The MTA board members decided long ago that they were going to balance their discriminatory budget on the backs of the poorest people in LA County."
The Bus Riders Union has charged that the “MTA operated separate and unequal
bus and rail systems that discriminated against the poor minority bus riders of Los Angeles.”
The MTA insists that the 1996 Consent Decree with the Bus Riders Union has been part of the cause of their budget shortfall. The agency is still not in full compliance with the consent decree by which Judge Terry Hatter ordered MTA to purchase 350 new buses. The MTA asserted they didn’t have the money to comply. While on appeal of the court order to buy the buses, MTA embarked upon an advertising campaign claiming "It’s Getting Better on the Bus."
"Given the cost of the legal appeals, the ad campaign, and all the negative publicity, it would have been less expensive to take responsibility and purchase the buses," said Crompton. "How much of taxpayers money has the MTA wasted on fruitless legal appeals and self congratulatory advertising? We need to know if those buses have been purchased, as ordered by Judge Hatter and upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals."
The MTA declined to consider minor reductions in capital program funds even as supplemental to price hikes and service cuts. Neither was reallocating capital program funds considered as a viable option to the price hikes.
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