Byline: Rebecca Rona-Tuttle
Fasting has weakened their bodies but not their spirits. These low-income bus riders, organized by the Bus Riders Union, have entered the sixth day of their fast to draw attention to their plight.
The Labor Community Strategy Center (LCSC), which Liberty Hill has supported for many years, gave birth to the Bus Riders Union.
I admire the determined people who’ve made the decision to fast. And I admire the Bus Riders Union organizers, working with all their might against the proposed fare hike that will force low-income folks to stretch their dollars even further---unless. Unless their protest tugs sufficiently at the public’s heartstrings, and eventually our public officials decide to reconsider.
But—this fasting tactic scares me. Does it scare you? I’m a writer, not an organizer, but these are the questions I ask myself: What if decision makers are not impressed in time? Will people die? Will people live, but with chronic health problems? Fasting as a tactic to gain attention, understanding and sympathy has worked in the past, but...
will it remain powerful as more and more groups employ it?
On the other hand, I heard Dolores Huerta speak out about the injustice of bus riders having to pay, especially at a time like this. And I figured she might not have spoken out without the fast.
Back to the real issue.
For two years, bus fares have remained the same. But now MTA officials are planning to raise fares as of July 1. For a one-way ride, the fare will rise from $1.25 to $1.50. People using a daily pass will find themselves forking over $6 instead of $5. The cost of a monthly pass will increase from $62 to $75, as LA Times reporter Dan Weikel reported recently. For some of us, these increases seem small. But the reality for many thousands of low-wage workers or the unemployed is that these increases will be painful---unless.
For most bus riders, taking public transit is their only means of getting from here to there. From home to work. To a doctor’s appointment. To the market. To the home of a sick relative.