Occupy Wall Street’s Poorly Targeted Transit Action

Occupy Wall Street is getting active in the transit discussion, but sometimes its efforts can seem a little misdirected. There was last week’s fare-jumping incident in New York, something that didn’t win them a lot of friends in the transit industry. Occupy Boston has organized a National Day of Action for Public Transportation for Wednesday.

A transit protest is planned for tomorrow in Chicago. But does it target the wrong audience? Photo: Medill News Northwestern

This group might fumble again, warns Steve Vance at Grid Chicago. The Chicago protest is being organized by the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and Citizens Taking Action. The problem, Vance says, is the setting they’ve chosen, the headquarters of the Chicago Transit Authority:

They should be rallying at locations where there are people who can do something about underfunded transit: the offices of elected officials, like at City Hall and those of state and federal Congresspersons scattered around town.

Transit in Chicago is funded by in large part by the farebox (CTA’s “recovery ratio” is greater than the 50% required by law) as well as local sales taxes, matching tax grants from the state, and semi-competitive grants from the federal government. We’ve covered a lot about transit funding: August 2011, December 2011, value capture, and Congress’s grandstanding on the surface transportation bill.

Those who are joining in the protests on Wednesday should direct their attention to elected politicians that aren’t working on new ideas to fund transit, but also to reducing current local transportation [planners'] ignorance of public transit.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Riding in Riverside says the new, reduced-cost plan for California High Speed Rail is a smart move. This Big City takes inspiration from Tokyo on building child-friendly urban spaces. And Baltimore Spokes explains that the state of Maryland is starting to fund cycling at a fair level.