Better Eugene Springfield Transportation organized a rally today at the downtown Eugene bus station to thank our essential drivers at Lane Transit District. Myself and several other community members were invited to share a few words of gratitude for these essential workers. It was a great turnout filled with such moving statements. Here's what I managed to share (just barely without choking up at the end!):
"Quality transportation is a lifeline.
We know the relationship between communities of color and transportation has been a strenuous one. I can call on the name of Rosa Parks and many of our minds flood with images of the civil rights movement and the historic Montgomery Bus Boycotts. We know this history.
Transportation investments have historically prioritized car travel, and wealthier communities, while bypassing communities of color who are most burdened by the negative impacts of our transportation system despite being the least well-served by it. Because of this legacy, transportation is now the largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. economy and the largest GHG contributor in Oregon. We know these poisons are concentrated in these same historically disadvantages communities.
It’s so important that we understand that one of most effective things communities can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting resilience in communities of color and low-income communities is to improve access to abundant, affordable, and non-polluting transportation options, regardless of income, national origin, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, or ability.
Our transit workers are an invaluable piece to this vision, and what environmental justice communities call a "Just Transition", would be impossible without labor unions, who created the framework because they saw the need to phase out the polluting industries that were harming workers and the planet and at the same time provide just pathways for workers to transition to clean jobs. Let us all continue to usher in a Just Transition that values living wages, worker protections, and the rights of workers to organize to improve their work conditions.
To wrap up, I've lived in Eugene for three years now, and I haven’t owned a car because I can’t afford one. For every trip to the grocery store, to campus, to my doctor – I give a sincere thank you to the LTD bus drivers. Thank you for being my lifeline, and the lifelines of so many others in this community."
The $1 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill is on its way President Biden's desk as we speak. I know I'm not the only one incredibly excited for what this investment means for transportation justice. Onward and upward!