With new uncertainty over the light rail plan, it is necessary to expand our focus in the North End into a broader one and that is transportation justice.

Historically, transportation investments do not often reflect “equality” as a core value.  They tend to disproportionately benefit those who are already mobile (i.e. not transit-dependent) and economically comfortable while placing extra burden on the already disadvantaged.

In order for a transportation system to be just, it needs to serve the needs of the people who most need the transportation, namely, those who are transit-dependent.  The needs of the community can only be known if they are spoken and heard.

The conversation about “transportation justice must move to the forefront of the discussion.  But what do we mean by “transportation justice”?

Transportation Justices is about advocating for policies rooted in these principles:

1. Transportation systems must be affordable whether it is a bus or a light rail…it must be affordable for all.
2. Involve public participation, accountability, and transparency…the public voice needs to be represented in the planning and decision-making process.
3.Transportation system must be accessible and connected…needs to take “transit dependent” people where they need to go in a way that is convenient, accessible and safe.
4. Transportation system and policy should be fair…low-income riders and people of color must receive an equal benefit from public transit dollars as higher-income and white riders do.
5. Community benefits are largely tied to the level of community investment and advocacy, it is important that the community be financially invested in the project through public funds so that it has a greater basis for demanding fair treatment.

According to Voice of Detroit, a progressive, pro-labor online magazine/blog, D-Dot has contracted out management of DDOT (for $2 million) to a private company called Parson’s Brinckerhoff, who has subcontracted their contract out to a less well known consulting group call Envisurage, run by a former RTA guy in Rochester, NY, where he was very unpopular with unions.  Envisurage has been in town 2-3 weeks, according to Henry Gaffney, President of Amalgamated Transit Unit Local 26, and still not met with the union.  This is supposed to result in $10 million in savings to the city.

Envisurage’s website, at http//envisurage.com, says, “Under his leadership in Rochester, Mark Aesch, successfully introduced the concept of managing a public sector agency with a private sector mindset.