MARTA is Smarta When We All Take Parta
(APN) ATLANTA The Atlanta Transit Riders ' Union (ATRU) believes in the power of the people who ride buses, and has appropriated public transit as a populist issue, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. ATRU claims two major recent victories in 2005 and the group hopes to continue its success in 2006.
In 2005, The Riders ' Union successfully prevented MARTA from raising riders ' one-way fares by twenty-five cents ($0.25) to two dollars ($2.00) from the current fare of $1.75. ATRU also prevailed in its grasssroots lobbying efforts to restore Bus Route 61 that serves the Bowen Homes Public Housing Project in 2005.
"The people most affected have to be organized and activated ...only a movement of direct action and protest is going to move those who make decisions to do the right thing," Courtney told Atlanta Progressive News.
Atlanta JWJ is composed of various unions, students, faith groups, and other activists working in Atlanta communities where transit cutbacks hurt the most.
"One of the keys to our victories was going out there and building relationships with present organizations in their communities," Courtney said. "[We] listened to them, went to their meetings, and got their input."
In June 2005, after ATRU protesters scolded MARTA leadership in front of the Lindbergh headquarters, the MARTA Board unanimously approved the 2006 $323.5 million budget without a fare increase.
In August 2005, ATRU and the Bowen Homes Tenants ' Association joined together to protest the cut of Bus Route 61. Courtney informs APN as of Dec. 31, 2005 that Route 61 has been restored.
Chioke Perry, 42, President of the ATRU, said he got involved in grassroots campaigning in Spring 2004 out of "frustration." That year, MARTA cut Bus Route 90, which went from roughly the Jonesboro Road area to the Oakland City Station, a route that Perry relied on heavily.
Perry participated in a protest march held by the employees of the Hamilton E. Homes MARTA Station in front of the Department of Labor in 2004; his grassroots involvement "sort of snowballed from there."
ATRU has three (3) goals for the future, unions leaders tell Atlanta Progressive News. The first goal is to convince leaders to help MARTA with state funding. MARTA is the only U.S. transit system not receiving funding from the state.