En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Worker's World
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Students, Transit Workers Rally Outside MTA

A dynamic student movement
has risen up against the bank-controlled Metropolitan Transit Authority’s
provocative proposal to eliminate free student MetroCards. For the second time
since this serious cut was announced, hundreds of high school students
protested Feb. 1 outside the MTA’s headquarters, chanting “MTA, we won’t pay!”

The outrageous proposal
has also prompted greater collaboration between students and Transit Workers
Union Local 100, whose officers addressed the crowd and the media at the
action. Along with student activists, speakers represented Sistas and Brothas
United, Desis Rising Up and Moving, the Northwest Bronx Coalition,
Make the Road New York, and Youth on the Move, as well as a handful of elected
representatives.

The campaign to save
student MetroCards is also a movement to defend public education — the MTA’s
proposal is the New York
equivalent of cancelling school buses. This campaign is growing alongside the
one against Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to close 19 schools and the March 4 Day
to Defend Education, whose multiple actions at college campuses around the city
will culminate in a march that ends at MTA headquarters.

The proposal to cancel
free transportation for students is just the tip of the iceberg in a long list
of cutbacks the MTA is planning — from layoffs of 700 transit workers to
drastic cuts in Access-A-Ride, the program that serves disabled riders.
Cancellation of bus routes all over New
York
and drastic cutbacks in subway service are also
planned.

The MTA announced its
proposal to cancel student passes immediately after its attempt to block the
transit workers’ raises failed in court. It has kept up an anti-worker campaign
of propaganda in the media. This campaign claims that the workers’ pay and
benefits are too high, and this high cost is responsible for the cutbacks and
fare hikes the MTA is imposing on riders with increasing frequency.

The MTA is the
fifth-largest debtor in the country. The real source of the MTA’s budget
deficits is the crushing debt service the MTA keeps paying to banks and Wall
Street interests — the same interests that have just rewarded their top
officers and brokers with tens of billions of dollars in bonuses.