Public Transit Agencies Celebrate Transit Equity Day!


Public transit agencies across the U.S. are celebrating Transit Equity Day (TED) Feb. 4, which commemorates the birthday of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. This year’s TED falls on what would have been Parks’ 111th birthday.

TED promotes equity in public transportation and raises awareness about the critical importance of transit to all members of the community—including the traditionally underserved. Systems will be offering free rides and hosting ceremonies with local officials, and some will leave a seat vacant on buses to honor Parks.

In California, the Orange County Transportation Authority, Metrolink, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Riverside Transit Agency will offer free rides Feb. 4. The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) will operate at no cost on Feb. 5. Omnitrans and the Victor Valley Transit Authority in San Bernardino County will be free on both days.

“Transit Equity Day is so much more than a day of reflection,” said Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle. “It’s about our industry’s continued commitment to fairness in mobility, which is something we strive to deliver on a daily basis here at Metrolink. Offering free rides on Feb. 4 is one way we’re making our service more accessible for the communities we serve.”

“Transit Equity Day is an opportunity for VCTC to put our values into action by honoring those who have worked to ensure equity in transportation,” said Claire Grasty, public transit director. “On this day, we are reminded that VCTC must continue to fulfill our core mission, which is to create a more connected, resilient, equitable, and user-friendly transportation system for Ventura County.”

On Feb. 3, community leaders will use Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority to travel to the Oregon, Sanger, Mott, and Kent branches of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, where they will engage in an interactive reading experience of a book about Rosa Parks with area children and families.

TriMet is offering free service Feb. 4. “As TriMet’s first black general manager and a person of African American heritage, Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus affects me personally,” said Sam Desue Jr. “I am humbled and beyond proud to lead an organization that provides a public service where all are welcome. TriMet connects people—all people, no matter the color of their skin or where they came from—with opportunity. Ride with us on Rosa Parks’ birthday and think about how we got here. And give thanks.”

In addition to reserving a seat on its buses, the Milwaukee County Transit System, WI, offers an annual scholarship program for high school seniors in Milwaukee County who will attend a trade school, college, or university. Applications must include writing a short essay inspired by Parks’ quote, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” Winners will be announced Feb. 4.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, is joining with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada on Feb. 5 at the Bonneville Transit Center to host a resource fair for TED.

CityLink, Peoria, IL, is reserving a seat in Parks’ honor on each fixed-route bus Feb. 4. The classic 1975 bus that is used during the agency’s annual Stuff-A-Bus food drive features a permanent seat that is reserved in honor of Parks. “CityLink is proud to continue the tradition of honoring Rosa Parks on what would have been her 111th birthday,” said General Manager Doug Roelfs. “The actions she took on a public transportation bus back in 1955 had a lasting impact on the Civil Rights Movement and they continue to be felt today.”

Laketran, Lake County, OH, is reserving the front seat on its buses from Feb. 5-9. A sign reading, “Reserved in honor of Rosa Parks. It all started on a bus. We honor the courage of Rosa Parks and her vision for equal access for all,” will accompany the reserved seat. “The fundamental principles of equality and access are at the core of Laketran’s mission and public transportation as a whole,” said Ben Capelle, Laketran CEO. “Rosa Parks, like many today in Lake County, relied on the bus for essential activities. We invite the community to join us in honoring her legacy by taking a seat reserved in her name.”