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Local Community Organizer Requesting Federal Investigation into Redesigned Bus Transit Network

02/28/2019 4:30 PM by

Omari Al-Qadaffi argues that the redesign of the GRTC transit network negatively impacts minorities and low income residents. This affects residents in the East End as well. Last year, Omari argued that transportation access is essential for social justice in an article on the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Imagine not having reliable transportation, and constantly having to figure out how to get to work, how to transport your family, how to maintain extracurricular activities, and how to access well-rounded activities for your family.

Not only are you car-less, you also live on a side of town where public transportation routes are less frequent and limited. While taxi cabs and car services such as Uber and Lyft sound easy, when maneuvering on a daily basis they are quite costly. And to top it off, the majority of your social circle is in the same predicament, so catching a ride with someone is really not an option because most of your acquaintances do not drive.

For a moment, sit with these questions: What would you do? How would you handle transportation for yourself and your family? How would this affect your current life, personally and professionally?

If you took the time to react to the questions above, chances are that you felt a bit of stress and anxiety, just at the thought. And unfortunately, this is a regular consideration for many of our Richmond-area population — especially those residing in communities that are more polarized by a lower socio-economic status.

Many times, when people think of community justice, transportation isn’t the first thing that comes to mind; rather wealth, opportunity, and privilege distribution. Yet when you consider these characterizations and how limited access or simple lack of transportation plays out, we learn that transportation must be intimately woven into the community justice conversation.

This time, the stakes are real. GRTC recently made some sweeping changes in its routes around Richmond that are now affecting the services in neighborhoods where Black and low-income residents reside. Check out the press release below:

Omari writes, “GRTC is the most transparent agency/department in the city. No joke. All you have to do is read and listen. This is from their Title VI Plan, which they are required to publish every 3 years. This one was put out the same day that City Council voted on to allow the new bus system. These were the demographics of the old routes in the East End”.

The Leaders of the New South also shared how this affected the Fulton neighborhood:

The Fulton neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia is a historically Black once affluent thriving community brought to poverty by racially targeted government policies. The Richmond Transit Network Plan originally would have further excluded this community socio-economically. Numerous advocates mobilized to fight to retain bus coverage for this neighborhood and other transit dependent neighborhoods in Richmond.

Leaders of the New South – Community Council for Housing
Fulton's Bus Coverage Battle Victory

The Fulton neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia is a historically Black once affluent thriving community brought to poverty by racially targeted government policies. The Richmond Transit Network Plan originally would have further excluded this community socieconomically. Numerous advocates mobilized to fight to retain bus coverage for this neighborhood and other transit dependent neighborhoods in Richmond.

Posted by Leaders Of the New South – Community Council for Housing on Thursday, August 3, 2017

The group also recently posted a video with the question: Who are the GRTC’s new redesigned bus routes for?

GRTC's Redesign is Meant For White Flight Return

City of Richmond's head of transportation explains that the redesign of GRTC's network was not meant for current bus riders but for gentrifers moving back into the city after White flight.

Posted by Leaders Of the New South – Community Council for Housing on Thursday, February 28, 2019

What can you do?

It’s become a mantra around here: get involved. The Mayorathon is this evening, voice your opinion directly to our Richmond leadership team. In order to effect change, “The more we consider one another in our planning, thinking, and strategy, the closer we will be to creating a united Richmond that we can all be proud to call home.”

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