By Justice Allen
- Transit leaders requested $36B in emergency federal funding
- NYC’s MTA plans to spend $249M on police officers, in a city with a 25% Black population
The transit system has been getting crushed by the pandemic, with public transit leaders requesting an additional $36 billion in emergency funding, on top of the $25 billion they received not too long ago. The wave of recent social protests coupled with the feeble financial future of transit systems has sparked conversations about how transit budgets are spent. For the communities of color across the country, these developments signal a time for change that is long overdue.
Why This Matters: As transit systems continue to falter, budgets are inevitably being cut. The one thing that is glaringly obvious is that cities with large Black populations are spending way too much money on transit law enforcement. Let’s take a look at Los Angeles for example. Black people make up about 8% of the total population (a lot more than most cities). It was said that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority was putting $650 million into law enforcement. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late last year that he was dedicating $249 million to increasing law enforcement, in a city with a 25% Black population
Since transit systems are carrying about 30% of the riders they normally do, we could be on the horizon of a major change
While people of color make up the majority of public transit users, national transit systems have never addressed the problems faced by ethnic riders and their communities. Atop the laundry list of issues is a brutally forceful police presence within public transit. The overwhelming presence of law enforcement within public transit systems has acted as a direct detriment to the safety and well-being of Black and brown riders. Now that the cops are being called into question, riders want law enforcement on the chopping block.
What’s Next: What would it mean for communities of color if transit police were defunded? Where do we start! Things like improved transit services in the neighborhoods that need them, and potentially offering free transit fare have been discussed. Since transit systems are carrying about 30% of the riders they normally do, we could be on the horizon of a major change.
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