Excerpt from an Interview with Ya-Ting Liu
Ya-Ting Liu (transalt.org) is a federal advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and also the campaign manager for Rider Rebellion at Transportation Alternatives.
My family moved here from Taiwan when I was seven years old. We couldn’t afford a car. The bus was our only way to get around and we used it for everything. Public transit is a vital service that connects people to opportunity and allows for social and economic mobility. It’s just as important as education, health care and jobs. Rural, suburban communities also depend on transit and when bus service is cut, folks are literally stranded without any other way to get to work.
New York City boasts the largest and only 24-hour public transit system in the country. Its buses and subways carry 7.5 million daily riders who make up about one third of all mass transit users in the United States. Fares cover about 60 percent of bus and subway operating costs, so service continues to deteriorate due to lack of adequate investment from the state and the city.
"Public transit is a vital service that connects people to opportunity that allows for social and economic mobility." - Ya-Ting Liu
Since 2007, New York transit riders have been fed a steady diet of fare hikes and service cuts due largely to the lack of leadership and political will of elected officials at the state level who control and determine how public transit is run and funded. The Rider Rebellion campaign was created in 2010 to organize transit riders to hold elected officials accountable for the quality of our transit service. We’re mobilizing outer borough communities disproportionately impacted by fare hikes and service cuts by partnering with community-based organizations and local elected officials. We’re also hitting the streets and surveying bus and subway riders directly about the quality of their commute and the improvements they’d like to see.
Nationally, we’re grappling with the legacy of auto-centric transportation planning and policies from the 1950s, when gas was 20 cents a gallon. Now we find ourselves in a very different world where we’re paying a very high price for oil dependency, which is also taking a toll on our climate. Transportation accounts for one-third of our country’s carbon footprint. Auto-centric planning has also led to neighborhoods without safe places to walk, bike and play.
If laws and policies were made purely on merit and based on measurable goals instead of politics, we would have a very different way of prioritizing government resources. If transportation investment decisions were made based on reducing congestion, fossil fuel dependency, job creation, and equitable access, transit projects would be a top priority every time.
New Political Spaces | Vol. 19, No. 1 – 2012 | Credits
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