F the T [Cuts]!
This coming Wednesday, April 4 is the National Day of Action for Transportation. Join Occupiers, unions, and citizens from the Greater Boston area in front of the State House to show the MBTA what the people want from a transit system.
On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, in which he described how the Vietnam War diverted federal money away from promising poverty programs and towards the military. After seeing these programs break down, King realized,
“America would never invest the necessary funds or energies
in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam
continued to draw men and skills and money like some
demonic destructive suction tube.”
In remembrance of this speech, Occupy Boston has called for a National Day of Action for Public Transportation this Wednesday, April 4. As Bostonians rally against the MBTA’s proposed fare hikes and service cuts, they’ll be joined by citizens in cities across the country and the support of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
The Action starts at 3pm in front of the State House.
Occupy Boston plans to make T riders’ voices heard.
“We’re going to have a Speak-out, a People’s Assembly, where [people] can tell what the T means to them,” says Occupier Ariel Oshinsky. “The State House is the People’s House. If they’re truly representative of the people, hopefully they’ll take note and come down and listen.”
Oshinsky, a student at Northeastern University, is a member of Occupy MBTA, “a working group within Occupy formed in response to the proposed plans to fix the deficit.”
“It’s a broad campaign working for comprehensible and sustainable transportation plans for the 99 percent of Massachusetts,” says Oshinsky.
“Over the past few months, we focused on the just MBTA board. Recently, the board announced they will not go through with either two proposals – which we all knew they wouldn’t.
“Now they’re going to bring out a third, less ridiculous proposal, which still won’t solve the deficit, and still will involve unfair price hikes and service cuts.”
[Note: On March 28, days after the interview with Ms. Oshinsky, the MBTA revealed a final proposal containing a 23 percent fare hike and service cuts. Occupy Boston officially rejected it that same day online.]
The goal is to encourage the State to seek alternate forms of revenue other than fare hikes and cuts, which Oshinsky considers a “regressive tax.”
“These new fares are a tax on the 99%,” she says. “It’s a tax on getting to work, a tax on getting to school, and a tax on getting to the doctor’s.”
Especially glaring was the proposed 500 percent increase on THE RIDE fares, which many senior and disabled citizens have spoken against in past hearings and rallies. “They’re taxing the elderly on trips to get groceries and visit the doctors – it’s telling of what their goals are,” says Oshinsky.
Oshinsky and her fellow Occupiers also stress that these proposals are for this year alone – so Boston will be having this conversation again if a viable long-term solution isn’t met.
Oshinky says these proposals are signaling a “downward spiral into privatization,” one heralded by former Chicago CFO Dana Levenson’s appointment to MassDOT.
“Now he’s the CFO of MassDOT! We want someone in transportation to be on the side of the people, not privatization.”
At this point, it’s all up to the people to take transportation back – exactly the point of the rally.
“Come and show up on the Fourth! We’ll go well into the evening – we need to be heard,” says Oshinsky.
“It’s not just Occupy, other organizations have been working on this much longer than us. We’re going to be united as those who ride on the T and work on the T. And we’re not trying to impose our voice on anyone; we want the voice to come from the people.”