Testimony of Brodie Enoch, Public Transit Rider Campaign Manager
Good morning. My name is Brodie Enoch. I work with Transportation Alternatives and I co-manage a campaign called the Rider Rebellion. The Rider Rebellion is a coalition of transit riders who have become fed up and disillusioned with the ever increasing fare hikes and service cuts. As we pay more and more every year, we seem to be receiving less and less for our transit dollar. This simple message of “public transit as a right” has resonated loudly throughout the riding public. Our Transit Rider Bill of Rights, which establishes once and for all the rights of riders, has been endorsed by 15,000 New Yorkers, 4 state elected officials, 13 community boards and scores of advocacy, civic and labor organizations. We have held several actions throughout the city. And all this has happened in just 7 months. The name Rider Rebellion has become synonymous with the fight for public transit riders’ rights.
I am not going to stand here and discuss numbers with you. The economics of running a system this large is way beyond my pay scale. I have trouble keeping my Lionel train set running. And I am not about to stand here and act as if I understand completely the politics of funding public transit. I don’t. But what I do know is that the fare hikes and service cuts have caused a great deal of hardship to those of us that ride public transportation. This board has been placed in the unenviable position of having to make some really tough decisions and choices. Decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of a staggering amount of New Yorkers. Choices that directly or indirectly have changed the commute of millions of New Yorkers. These decisions and choices have also had an effect on the tens of thousands of hard working men and women who have the responsibility of servicing, maintaining, repairing and even expanding our incredible system.
But we have to believe that you as a board have our best interest at heart. We all agree that the real problem is securing dedicated funding for public transit. Every year it seems as if there is less and less money to run the system as more and more money is being taken out of the system by Albany lawmakers.
We now find out that partly due to this annual fund raiding there is a chance that over 100,000 L.I. bus riders are in jeopardy of losing their public bus system and even worse than that, there is a chance that the bus lines might be privatized. This is unacceptable.
Albany has recently announced that there is a possibility of losing anywhere from $100 million to $200 million from this year’s transit budget. At a time when we are losing bus and subway lines, and off peak service is at an all-time low, we cannot afford to lose anymore transit dollars.
We, the Rider Rebellion, are here today to invite the board to become Rebels and join us as we take our message to Albany. Join us as we demand that our elected officials stop stealing our transit dollars. Join us as we stand to say that the safety of the riders and the reliability, safety and cleanliness of the system have to become a priority of our elected officials.
Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion campaign and our 15,000 subway and bus riding supporters urge you, the MTA board, to adopt a Transit Riders’ Bill of Rights, and we implore you as individual citizens to sign the Bill of Rights. You can do it right now. Just take out your cell phone and text “rebel” to 30644. I invite everyone in this room to take out their phones and join the Rider Rebellion too.