Bus Riders Union Hunger Strike for Justice

As of May 20, members from the Bus Riders Union began a hunger fast on the grass area of Placita Olvera to stop MTA from increasing fares from $1.25 to $1.50 for regular fare, a day pass will be $6, weekly passes will be $20, and a monthly pass will be $75. These fare increases are scheduled to take place during the summer.  MTA released their budget for the next fiscal year to the public breaking down where they would be making cuts, who much money is allotted to what and the increase in bus fares. Esperanza Martinez, one of the lead organizers for the union says that the increased fares are being passed down and targeting minorities, who are the majority of people that rely on the bus. All the poor people who depend on the bus for their livelihoods. People who commute everyday to work, school or just to get to doctor appointments and everyday commuting.

I was there yesterday during an drum circle to keep up the spirits of the people fasting and to check out the encampment since I’ve been passing by it the last week since they started the campaign. They all sleep in tents and are getting by despite the cold nights and the increased fatigue they’re all experiencing. It was intense to be around so much great energy and surround by all the supporters of the fasters.

The increase in fares will force people who use public transit daily and have no other transportation option  make some hard decisions on whether they will pay for that monthly bus pass or cut back on food, bills and rent. L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus summed it up pretty well, “fare hikes aren’t the whole solution to public transit’s money woes. It’s time that the dozens of city- and county-run systems that make up the region’s transit network get together and hash out a plan to expand ridership, rather than repeatedly reaching deeper into the pockets of those who already ride the bus.” The BRU have presented the MTA board with this and several other solutions that would help keep fares low and get them the money they need to continue projects and regular service. It doesn’t make sense to charge people more to ride the bus when they should be getting MORE people to use public transportation.

This Thursday at 8:30 a.m. join the union and the fasters as they will be marching from the tent city to the MTA Board meeting and protest the fare hikes.

12 thoughts on “Bus Riders Union Hunger Strike for Justice

  1. These increases are ridiculous! they should be decreasing fees to 75 cents a ride or at least bringing back “transfers”; day passes need to go back to $3. I really think youth under 18 should ride for free. Will high school student passes that are currently $20 monthly be increased?

  2. white people don’t ride buses?

    i agree with the bus riders union and for many of the same reasons that are in the LA times article. But i think they should not confuse racist with elitism or classism.

  3. Actually, I think people more often confuse elitism and “classism” with being post racial mindsets, off the street. The majority, and I mean vast majority, of the “elite” and “class” (where economic and political power is concerned) in this country are white. Classism and elitism are terms often used to distract people from this fact. Because of these terms, the government and their wealthy donors could be out to screw a particular ethnic group, and can duck accusations of racism by just conceding to being rich assholes and that being the reason for their actions. I’m not going to provide them with such an easy way out. If their actions are going to screw a segment of society that’s 90% minority and 10% white, the racism accusation should stand until they demonstrate otherwise.

  4. Oh my goodnes, the fair increases by MTA are racist? Are they charging the gavachos and hipsters a discount rate because they are pale?

    Al Sharton would be proud of the demonstrations against the xenophobes at the MTA.

  5. If slogans like “stop the bourgeois fare increases” worked, I’m sure the BRU would be using them. People just don’t understand that kind of language. You say “black and brown” and you know what it means. Yes, it does tend to exclude Whites and Asians – but sometimes, you’ll find Whites and Asians at political things where they use the “black and brown” lingo.

    When you’re Asian or White and ride the bus around, you figure 50% of the time you board, you’re the only one in your own demographic on the bus (and I mean that’s if you use those categories of White and Asian, which most Asians and immigrant Whites don’t; they say they’re Chinese or Korean or Armenian or whatever). That’s just how it is. So BRU says the fare increases affects “black and brown” people you’re going to agree.

    But you have to support, because you’re riding the bus too. You don’t have money to get a car, or if you have one, gas and parking are just too much. We’re all on the same bus. Like, when Civil Rights happened, Latinos and Asians (at least some) supported, because they figured that their own fates were tied in with the success of Black Civil Rights.

    I’m not saying that all these Black and Brown unity things are really multicultural. If you had a unity even about the LA riots, and didn’t invite Koreans, that could be a problem. If you had a Civil Rights memorial thing and didn’t invite Jews, that could be a problem.

    But still, let’s recognize reality. It’s a good way to phrase things. The fare increases are racist, especially when you consider that the wallet seems to be wide open for expensive rail expansions.

  6. This isn’t racist. It’s discriminatory towards the poor and working class, yes, but to assume that because the poor are mostly black and Latino that the fare increase was made because they are black and Latino, or even poor is conspiratorial. It is the worst of several fairly bad options, but it is also the fastest and easiest to implement in the short term. It’s bad, and people are right to be angry and fighting against it, but claims or racism or even classism aren’t right in my opinion.

    The question that I have, with regards to claims of racism, is this: Since the top 5% of household-earners in the United States are predominantly white and Asian, are Barrack Obama’s tax increases on them also racist?

  7. @ rob thomas

    i completely disagree with your concept of racism vs elitism. Race has usually been a distraction for elitism, a brief look back in history will easily demonstrate how class has been used to divide people throughout the centuries. from poor and middle classes now, gente de razon and gente sin razon previously to nobles and peasants prior. Society has long dealt with class issues more so than race. Race has served as common distraction for the upperclass to distract the lower, and keeping them focused on issues of race rather than issues of there economic well being.

    As for the BRU, i agree with the notion that the fare increases are wrong, but for the logical and reasonable arguments that David Lazarus spells out. I am a sucker for logic and reasoning over passionate arguments and rheotoric.

  8. racist? jajaja. thanks for the laughs fast organizers. thats like saying that the increase in guerrero tortilla prices is racist because its mostly brown folk that eat guerrero tortillas.
    cant it be just a sign of the times?
    and if it isnt. then i would think that its some sort of ISM, it is classist if anything.

    racist. o si!

  9. Fares are not going up for the disabled, seniors or students. These account for 50% of Metro passengers.

    Metro has one of the lowest farebox recoveries in the country. 24%. This fare hike will only increase it to 28%, I believe.

  10. Off The Street, your argument only demonstrates that elitism exists, not that it exists more so than racism. The examples you offered could easily be matched by examples of race being used as a divider.

  11. Yo. Don’t say its racist to raise fares. That’s straight stupid. The BRU is saying everything is racist.

    As far as the choice between food and fares, my recommendation is that these guys start shopping at Super King (“Where You Can Save Like A King”) and save big! Then they can have both!

  12. Dear LA Eastside,

    You’ll have to pardon me. I’m no expert on Metro demographics. Having lived in LA County for 10 years, I’ve only logged about 100,000 miles on Metro, spread across roughly 12,000 individual trips. However, I can safely say the percentage of trips I’ve taken with neither Asians nor whites is well under 10%. If I abandon safety like my father when he drinks too much hill milk (it eventually made him blind), I’d even say it’s under 5%.

    I was a bit confused as I compiled these numbers, however. First, there seems to be no mention of red people anywhere. Now, I’ve only noticed them on fewer than 1% of my trips, but I don’t think it’s very friendly to leave them out. Second, I wasn’t sure what to do with people from the Philippines, India and other Middle Eastern countries. You see, the oppositional tone really made me think black and brown on the one hand and white and Asian on the other. But that puts brown Asians in opposition to themselves. However, for the sensationalist purposes of hyperbole, I thought it best to maximize my percentage. In doing this noble duty, the percentage definitely eclipses 5, but still doesn’t quite make it to 10. I hope you’re not disappointed; and please consider adding my observations to the discussion on the topic in the future.

    Now, from what I’ve read, it appears the pervading logic of the experts at the BRU is that the races affected least by the fare hikes are waging war against those most affected. As such, the only logical conclusion I can come to is that people of red skin have taken over the MTA and are using the rate hike to levy reparations on those occupying their land. The few red people I’ve met are awful nice, hard-working people and I believe that if they set their minds to it, they can do anything, just like all good Christians. In light of this, I am happy to make my contribution as I pay my Metro fare, now and into the future.

    Yours Truly,
    Kenseth Paige Parcell

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