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Transit agencies, riders, unions, and members of Congress rally to save transit

Last week, a diverse group of transit stakeholders advocated for at least $32 billion in federal emergency funding for public transportation during a virtual rally. Scores of transit riders, transit agency executives, union leaders and members of Congress made it clear that transit won’t survive this crisis without help.

Transit needs your help. Here’s what you can do.

Public transit is essential and facing a financial crisis. We need to keep the pressure on Congress to pass at least $32 billion in emergency relief for transit.

(1) Email and call your members of Congress. Your Congressional delegation needs to hear from you. Use our action page to send an email to your members of Congress, and then follow-up with a call using this script.

(2) Tweet #SaveTransit today. We’re joining with the Save Public Transit Rally organizers this Tuesday to make #SaveTransit trend. Use our social media toolkit to tweet (and tag your members of Congress) in support of at least $32 billion in emergency relief for transit. 

Senate Republicans’ most recent COVID-19 relief proposal didn’t include any emergency funding for public transportation (at a time when transit is in crisis) and the House Democrats HEROES Act provided less than half of what transit needs. With budgets in freefall, transit agencies across the country are making drastic cuts to service, severing millions of people from access to essential jobs, healthcare and grocery stores—all during a deadly pandemic. These cuts erode the prospect of any long-term economic recovery, with limited and infrequent transit service unable to connect people to opportunities and essential services they need. 

That’s why transit agencies, riders, union leaders, and members of Congress came together last week to explain why transit agencies need at least $32 billion in emergency relief. 

Click through to take action to save transit.

At the Save Public Transit Rally, transit executives and riders from Chicago, Cleveland, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco joined forces with the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, the Transport Workers Union, Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Chris Van Hollen (MD), and Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4) and Jerry Nadler (NY-10) to resoundingly support at least $32 billion in emergency relief for public transit. The rally, available to watch in full here, was organized by Transportation for America, the Riders Alliance of New York, and Alliance for a Just Society, and co-sponsored by 39 other organizations. 

“Public transit is not an option. Public transit is a lifeline,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. “The working men and women at all transit agencies across the country roll up their sleeves and go to work everyday.  They enable the rest of our essential frontline workers to get the job done.  Now it’s our turn.” 

What made the rally especially powerful was that transit riders spoke before the leader of their transit agency and explained how critical transit is to their life. 

“I live in New Orleans. Public transit is my bread and butter,” said Judy Stevens, a New Orleans transit rider. “I’m an essential healthcare worker. I don’t own a car. I use transit to get to work, grocery, doctor appointments, all daily activities. I rely and depend on it. With cutbacks to service during COVID, riders aren’t able to social distance right now. Please Congress, listen to riders, and fully fund transit service.” 

There are thousands of essential workers and riders like Judy across the country. By choosing not to act, Congress is stranding Americans who rely on transit each day and hampering any future recovery. But it’s not too late for Congress to pass the assistance that our nation’s transit systems need to keep running through and after the pandemic.