Transit workers rally on Hill
Noon Update: Transit workers kicked off a planned rally at noon, protesting service cuts that are affecting transit agencies across the country as they wrestle with declines in ridership and loss of revenue.
The protesters are carrying signs, with slogans such as "Fight Back," and handing out T-shirts and fliers. The Rev, Jesse Jackson is scheduled to speak. About 100 Metro employees are expected at the rally, along with workers from across the country.
Original post: According to a joint statement from the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transport Workers Union of America, transit workers from across the country will rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday to protest proposed service cuts at Metro and at other agencies across the country.
Amalgamated Transit Union 689 represents most Metro workers.
Metro is struggling to close a $189 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. According to the American Public Transportation Association, 70 percent of public transit system face budget shortfalls in their next fiscal year.
Under a budget recently submitted by Interim General Manager Richard Sarles last week, Metro is considering curtailing weekend service an hour earlier on Saturday and Sunday, reducing service on some holidays along with widespread fare and fee increases. Sarles's plan actually emphasizes fare increases over service cuts, proposing substantially fewer ones than were outlined in a budget prepared by his predecessor John B. Catoe Jr. in January.
The unions hope Congress will redirect federal stimulus money from capital improvements to operating expenses for the systems.
"Public transportation is experiencing a funding crisis and it is negatively impacting the millions of riders who depend on public transportation every day," APTA President William Millar said earlier this month, as the group released a survey on the impact of the recession on public transit. "The results of this survey are grim as many public transportation systems are facing large budget shortfalls due to declining state and local revenues."
The statement said 40 buses of transit workers from New York and New Jersey are expected at the rally, along with 600 local transit workers. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is also expected to attend the rally, which is scheduled for noon at Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill.
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