A broad coalition of transportation labor, environmental, community and passenger advocate leaders launched a new national partnership – Keep America Moving — to rescue the nation’s financially distressed mass transit systems at a press conference at New York’s Penn Station March 31, 2010.
Founding members of Keep American Moving, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen, ATU International President Warren George and TWU International President James C. Little articulated the plight of mass transit in America and the steps needed to fix the crisis at the event.
Samuelsen kicked off the conference by decrying the loss of vital mass transit service and jobs in major urban and suburban centers across the country. “We are facing a national mass transit crisis,” said Samuelsen. “We need a national solution.”
Rev. Jackson echoed Samuelsen’s concern over the state of America’s transit systems. “Mass transit is the key to a national economic, green recovery,” he declared. “Sixty people on a bus instead of 60 people in 60 cars is a green jobs revolution. Two hundred people on a train, instead of 200 people in 200 cards is a green jobs revolution.”
ATU President Warren George called for an immediate overhaul of a law that handcuffs most municipalities from flexible use of federal capital dollars for operating expenses. TWU International President James C. Little said that “mass transit has been under funded for 80 years.” And he said the crisis is not only about green jobs, “it’s about the millions of people who need and depend on these services.”
Rep. Charles Rangel added his support to Keep America Moving’s goals. He said that the energy efficiency component of mass transit is crucial to America’s future. “The nation’s dependence on foreign oil currently dictates our foreign policy, and when and if we go to war.”
Rep. Greg Meeks added his support, calling Keep America Moving’s objectives “a common sense approach to revitalizing our economy and growing green jobs.”
Other speakers included: Gene Russianoff, New York Straphangers Campaign; Kimberly Wasserman, Director, Transit Riders for Public Transportation; Dan Miner, Sierra Club, NYC Chapter; Cecil Corbin-Mark, We Act for Environmental Justice; and Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party