Dear Editor,

When we think about systemic racism, police departments, education, and housing often come to mind. But what about racism in our transportation system?

People of color disproportionately rely on transit to connect them to where they need to go. Healthcare, restaurant, and retail employees don’t have the option of working remotely, yet their work is essential to all. 

People of color face multiple transportation hardships, including:

• Fares that are unaffordable for many,

• Routes that may provide insufficient service,

• Disproportionate exposure to air pollution from vehicle emissions that waft into homes located near highways, exposing people to increased risks of asthma and heart disease.

How much more difficult can it be to get to where you need to go?

There is speculation that a forthcoming federal stimulus package will focus infrastructure dollars on roads, bridges and tunnels. While that is great news for road construction workers and private equity firms that invest in infrastructure, that type of spending focuses largely on improvements that will be enjoyed by those who have the privilege of owning a car. 

Decision makers need to view transit as an essential service that invests in the overall wealth of all of our people. Investment in no or low fares, increased frequency of buses, and expanded routes and times of service will generate the kind of transportation system that takes cars off the road, provides good-paying transit jobs, and reduces sickening greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.

Cheri Conca

Reston, VA

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