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Articles by Eric Mann

Featured Article

An update from me and my colleague Francisca Porchas of the Labor/Community Strategy Center:

For the first time in L.A., the car capital of the world, a bus-centered public-transportation system has been given priority over the auto — a big victory for environmental justice and the reduction of auto-based air toxins and greenhouse gases.

On Aug. 15, the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union secured an important environmental and public-health victory at the Los Angeles City Council: the approval of a $27 million project to implement peak-hour bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard. The Wilshire bus-only lane would run from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and would operate during rush hour, 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Wilshire Boulevard has the largest transit ridership in the county with over 90,000 boardings a day. The bus-only lane is expected to reduce travel time by 20 percent for current transit users and would attract new riders to public transportation.

This is a step toward the implementation of a countywide network of bus-only lanes on all major bus-transit corridors in Los Angeles County. A countywide bus-only lane network would reduce the har... Read more

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  • A perspective from Eric Mann

    A Latina woman addresses the board of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). She is part of a crowd of 1,500 people opposing the agency's proposed bus-fare increases. She holds her 3-year-old child up to the board and says, "What would you like me to do? Take the clothes off his back or the food out of his mouth?"

    Bus Riders Union rally

    L.A., with 10 million people and 7 million cars on the road, is the freeway capital of the U.S. For more than 14 years, the MTA on one side and the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union (BRU) on the other have been fighting over the future of L.A.'s public transportation -- a fight with important implications for the future of the environmental movement. The heavyweight bout has grown more high-profile this year. Despite massive opposition, on May 24, 2007, the MTA board of directors voted to raise the daily bus fare from $3 to $5 a day and the cost of a monthly bus pass from $52 to $62 a month. This is just the first step in a draconian trajectory that will, if not stopped, push the monthly bus pass to $75 and then $90, force many low-income people off the buses, and compel people to use or buy old cars instead of taking public transit. These policies will increase toxic air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions, and make the bus riders poorer while making rail contractors richer.

    The fight over the fare hikes has become a cause célèbre. The Bus Riders Union and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are in state court trying to reverse the fare hikes on environmental grounds. The BRU is also in front of the federal courts asking for a five-year extension of a federal civil-rights consent decree controlling MTA actions. Dozens of BRU organizers are on the buses, talking to thousands of bus riders, holding community meetings to plan our next countermove. The fight to reverse those fare increases, buy more buses, and stop future money-sucking rail projects is far from over. This dramatic expansion in the breadth and impact of the environmental movement in L.A. could be a model for urban coalitions throughout the U.S.