Climate-labor coalition calls on Senator Brown to deliver public transit


Courtesy of Sunrise CWRU

Members of Sunrise CWRU gather outside Senator Sherrod Brown’s Cleveland office.

Hoai Phuong Nguyen, News Editor

Case Western Reserve University students who commute to campus know all too well the necessity of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). After all, in our tuition, there exists the RTA fee, and therefore it is important that the RTA be as convenient and accessible to as many students as possible. 

Recognizing the importance of such accessibility, among many other reasons for upgrading the public transit system, on April 7, members of Sunrise CWRU gathered outside Senator Sherrod Brown’s Cleveland office and delivered over one hundred letters “written by a coalition of groups including Ohio Sunrise Movement, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 and Clevelanders for Public Transit. The letters urged Senator Brown to support increased federal funding for public transportation and to back legislation that would make transit cleaner and more affordable.”

Not only will such change positively impact CWRU students, “good, reliable public transit would create union jobs in our communities, improve the daily lives of millions of Ohioans and give us a chance to take on the climate crisis,” Emma DiLavore, Recruitment Lead of Sunrise CWRU, explained. 

President Joe Biden is currently seeking support for his infrastructure proposal; the American Jobs Plan, his $2.7 trillion bill to revitalize the U.S. economy, is seen as insufficient to support the majority of Americans within walking distance of reliable transit. In these letters to Senator Brown, however, there are calls for $60 billion in public transit funding, including operating funds for cities to expand bus and rail service. 

Additionally, the letters also request Brown’s support of the Freedom to Move Act, which will eliminate fares on public transport, and the Build Green Act, which will electrify buses and rail and potentially create 900,000 jobs in the United States. According to a representative from SEIU Local 1, too often, members of the labor movement have to make a choice between good jobs and environmental justice. However, with progressive bills like those advocated for in the letters, we have the potential to eliminate this false dichotomy between securing jobs and ensuring green policy for our communities. 

Not only would our economy benefit from these proposed changes, they can also avert many public health crises caused by air pollution. According to research from Data for Progress, replacing the entire bus and railroad fleet would result in approximately 4,200 fewer deaths annually nationwide. Many of these deaths are children and the elderly who are, on average, more susceptible to suffer acute, adverse effects from ambient air pollution.

The significant consequences of global warming for our generation have already begun to show. It is therefore essential that we take steps towards a sustainable future, starting by improving the infrastructure of public transportation.