The OB Media Rundown all Transportation Edition 4/5/12

Boston Epicenter of Occupy Transit’s Day of Protest as MBTA Approves Fare Hike

Boston’s MBTA Board just voted for a fare increase that takes effect July 1. Unluckily for that body, today’s board meeting coincides  with national protests (referred to as a National Day of Action for Mass Transit) proposed by Occupy Boston. It’s the date on which Martin Luther King Jr. – himself a transit activist – was assassinated.

Occupy MBTA tweeted: “SHAME! Board member just said ‘we are transportation agency, not a social service agency.'” @AceEJ tweeted: “Disabled rider tells #MBTA bd: Someday you’re going to need THE RIDE & I hope it’s there 4 u! Transit is a right, not a privilege! Cheers!” And Boston Metro reporter Steven Annear wrote: “Second Board member interrupted by crowd chanting “Just Vote NO”

Protesters say MBTA isn’t listening to riders

A larger than life “Charlie,” the MBTA’s mascot, joined the other 99 percent for a protest out front of the Mass. State House, a national day of action for public transportation, with a brass band tempering the disappointing news for these riders.

The MBTA board’s decision to increase fares and cut service did not sit well for Greg Housh and family of Malden, Mass. “The MBTA is actually our school bus for the children. Up in Malden, we don’t have a busing system other than the MBTA,” Housh said.

Inside, about a hundred strong joined unions in front of the Grand Staircase – with many of the same faces here as we saw at Occupy Boston this past fall in Dewey Square – rallying against what they say is the MBTA’s connection to the big banks.

Occupy Boston takes over State House steps

Protesters outraged about the fare increases coming down the tracks are camping out on the State House steps.

Calling their mini-occupation “Camp Charlie,” members of Occupy the MBTA, an off-shoot of Occupy Boston, announced they will be sleeping at Beacon Hill, calling on the state Legislature to intervene and stop fare hikes and service cuts to public transportation.

The occupation is in direct response to the MassDOT Board of Director’s vote Wednesday to charge riders more to ride the T while cutting back on buses and Commuter Rail trains.

Mass April 4th Protests Against MBTA Service Cuts – Late-Afternoon/Early-Evening Edition

As it turns out, the forces conspiring against MBTA fare hikes and service cuts weren’t joking. They didn’t quite turn out a Wisconsin-sized Statehouse occupation as planned, but much hell was raised, and they even got a snap out of a Beacon Hill power player. Here’s how it went down, or at least how I saw things unfold . . .

I caught back up with the outburst at around 3:15pm, after filing an update on earlier actions that erupted around today’s hearing at the Mass Transportation Building. I left that hubbub early because, as so many folks expected, board members were bound to approve the band-aid plan before them. The real action and excitement wasn’t in that stuffy room, which, magically, cannot be penetrated by informed dissent. It was outside on the street, and up on Beacon Hill.

Mass April 4th Protests Against MBTA Service Cuts – Morning Edition

As one elderly Red Line rider explained at today’s public MBTA hearing at the Mass Transportation Building: the fight for rider’s rights isn’t a new one. The commonwealth has been down these tracks before, and the past few months have been no exception. As generally happens when lifelines get cut, the latest war over transit has evolved into a mass endeavor.

On several occasions since February, hundreds of middle school and high school students have rallied through downtown, demanding that their cries be heard by board officials. At the same time, everyone from seniors to college students have brought their message to meeting after meeting, hearing after hearing, all across the commonwealth.

MBTA board approves fare increases over customer protests

As more than a hundred outraged protesters chanted “Shame on You!” the MBTA board of directors approved a fiscal 2013 budget that will increase fares 23 percent and cut some late night and weekend services.

The board passed the budget 4-1. Board member Ferdinand Alvaro of Marblehead cast the dissenting vote, saying the Legislature could do more to help.

Occupy Boston Protests MBTA Fare Hike

The sound of “No” echoed through the halls of the State House Wednesday afternoon, as more than 100 protestors affiliated with Occupy Boston gathered at the base of the Grand Staircase to protest the MBTA’s budget plan.

The group, which began its rally outside on Beacon Street, declared public transportation a civil right and said that protests at recent MBTA hearings had gone unheard.

“[So,] we are creating our own hearing, and we’re having it inside the State House,” said Katie Gradowski. She and Noah McKenna led the rally from the front steps, joined by a giant-sized puppet of “Charlie” bearing a “99%” button.

TriMet, Occupied [OR]

If you haven’t been on a bus or MAX train today, I’ll catch you up to speed: Today is Occupy TriMet, another Occupy-labeled event meant to spread awareness of TriMet’s hefty budget cuts and trigger opposition/outrage. Occupy TriMet cohorts handed out mini fliers to drowsy transit riders this morning (and will continue throughout the day), highlighting what they see as flaws in the cuts and demanding change. “TriMet must explore an alternate strategy that will not punish riders or workers,” reads the handout.
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Portland isn’t the only city pushing for transit reform today. Hart Noecker, the founder and fire behind the event, said he was inspired by today’s Occupy Boston rally, a protest against similar transit cuts. “This is about celebrating mass transit and getting people informed,” says Noecker. “Portland’s got a proud history defined by transit. TriMet’s threatening to change that. Why make a worse product and charge more for it if it’s already so successful?”

Mass. board approves fare hikes, cuts on T

Ferdinand Alvaro Jr., the lone board member to vote against the plan, said he appreciated that the T’s staff put together a plan that sought to minimize the impact of service cuts. But he said he could not in good conscience support a budget that was balanced at the expense of the most vulnerable people in society.

“For those of you who have said repeatedly that we don’t care, we do care,” Alvaro told the audience.

MBTA Approves Plan To Boost Fares, Cut Service

After all of the talk, public hearings, and protests over the past three months, the MBTA Board voted Wednesday afternoon to boost fares 23 percent and cut back service in an attempt to close a projected $161 million deficit in the next fiscal year. Board members approved a plan in a 4-1 vote that would raise most subway fares by 30 cents, bus fares by 25 cents, and commuter rail fares by at least $1.25.
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Meanwhile, several groups continued to protest this latest budget plan, including an overnight vigil that was held at the Statehouse Tuesday into Wednesday morning. An “Occupy” group was also planning to hold a “people’s hearing” outside the State House today at 3 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. rally and 8 p.m. vigil.

“We’re going to have a people’s hearing where our voices are really heard and we don’t just get lip service,” Josh Golin, of Occupy Boston and Occupy MBTA, said at the hearing.

ATU joins OWS protests in 15 US cities

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) joins demonstrations Wednesday to call attention to fare hikes and service reductions on public transportation systems.

Members of the Occupy Wall Street Movement are teaming up with unions for the demonstrations, and events are planned in at least 15 different cities, including Boston, Chicago and Denver. The rallies, leafleting and candlelight vigils will commemorate April 4, 1967, the day Martin Luther King Jr., spoke out against the Vietnam conflict and linked war to poverty.
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Hanley pointed to a proposal that passed Occupy Boston’s general assembly last month as inspiration for the national day of action.

“The General Assembly of Boston calls on occupations, general assemblies and people’s movements across the country and around the globe to mobilize on April 4, 2012, to demand public transportation for the 99 percent,” the Occupy Boston proposal said. “In Boston and in cities around the country, our hard-won and necessary transportation systems are under attack. Their viability is being threatened by savage cuts and fare hikes in a calculated push toward privatization by corrupt and unresponsive politicians and their corporate benefactors.”

All aboard crazy train

Today the refugees from Dewey Square will once again scale Beacon Hill for a “National Day of Action for Transportation.” They’ll protest pending MBTA fare hikes and service reductions. They’ll demand that the T solve its $161 million budget deficit for next year without fare hikes, service reductions or layoffs.

[Transportation protest stories Not related to or referencing Occupy Boston  below here.]

TriMet union, Occupy Portland team up for protest

TriMet union workers have a new ally in Occupy Portland.

About 25 members of TriMet’s Amalgamated Transit Union joined forces Wednesday with Occupy Portland to speak out about issues related to public transportation. They gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square and at TriMet stops around the area.

Members of Occupy Portland said they are especially concerned the rate hikes could affect vulnerable citizens, and they want TriMet to bring back Fareless Square.

“I want to be able to get to the laundry mat. I want to be able to get to the grocery store. It’s getting a lot harder,” said Janet Sims, a TriMet rider.

‘Occupy Transit’ supporters warn of federal funding cuts [NJ]

Union members and activists took to the state’s bus stops and train stations Wednesday to “Occupy Transit” – or, more accurately, to warn riders about how potential cuts in the federal Transportation Funding Bill would affect their ride.

From the Port Authority bus terminal to the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, activists picked the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death to inform people of the potential funding cuts. The local event mirrored similar Occupy events in 15 cities across the country.

Transit Union Members Join Occupy Demonstrators In Subway Protests [NY]

Occupy Wall Street protesters teamed up with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 to take their protest movement underground Wednesday.

One of the things the demonstrators are doing is placing decals on seats that say “Priority Seating For The 1 Percent.” They say that represents the percentage of Metropolitan Transportation Authority operating funds that go directly to Wall Street.

“We’re making a statement to people who use the MTA system. Most people do not understand that 20 percent of the fare right now is going to pay specifically for financial services to the MTA,” said Occupy Wall Street protester Jeffrey Brewer.

Denver bus drivers protest transit cuts that affect poor and disabled travelers

Transit workers today protested cuts in public transportation funding and services, both locally and nationally, saying getting people to-and-from jobs and home is a basic civil right.

“A lot of the time we are providing something to people who need it the most, the needy and the disabled,” said Yvette Salazar, international vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Salazar – who started as an Regional Transportation District driver in 1993 – joined about 75 other drivers, riders and members of Occupy Denver at RTD’s Civic Center Station as part of a national push to highlight the problems facing public transportation.