At a rally yesterday headlined by Rev. Jesse Jackson, a new coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations stood together to demand more funding for transit agencies across the country. With service cuts afflicting bus and train riders in dozens of major cities, the "Keep America Moving" coalition is focused on securing funds to maintain transit service. Their first goal is passing legislation in Congress that would make federal operating aid for transit permanent.
The star of the rally was Jackson, introduced by Congressman Charlie Rangel as someone who "not only brings a political stimulus, but answers to a higher power." Calling the budgetary woes of the nation's transit agencies part of "the heart of the urban crisis," Jackson told the crowd that "we must now bail out from the bottom-up," beginning with urban transit.
Jackson added that the coalition's fight "may end in a massive March on Washington," linking the coalition to the history of the civil rights movement.
Keep America Moving increasing operating funds for the nation's transit systems. Nationally, the coalition is pushing to pass Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan's bill to allow cities with more than 200,000 residents to use federal dollars on transit service, not just capital projects. Transit systems across the nation are facing huge budget deficits as a result of the recession. Multiple speakers at the rally questioned the wisdom of buying new buses if you can't pay anyone to drive them, a situation that gained widespread attention when the 2009 stimulus bill emphasized funding capital projects instead of maintaining service.Read more...