SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020
TO: Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez
CC: Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners
Dear Mayor Gimenez,
We understand and recognize that this is an incredibly challenging time for our community. However, a complete and total shutdown of a transit system in response to localized protests and violence is an unprecedented response. In a community as diverse as ours, a shutdown of this magnitude is not only counterproductive to many working families struggling with the effects of the pandemic – but it also unreasonably affects transit-dependent Black and Brown communities who are at the heart of our nationwide need to heal, and promote justice and solidarity.
All other major cities facing similar circumstances opted for responsive, localized transit service suspensions and temporary road closures in response to their evolving situation, and resumed their transit services today. It would be unprecedented to shut down the entire road network in response to the events of last night, yet that’s what we have done to our transit system – in a community with 90,000 households that do not own a vehicle and still need to buy their groceries, access medical services, and get to work on a Sunday.
36% of transit commuters in Miami are essential workers, who are more likely to work on Sunday. They and thousands of other transit commuters woke up today lucky to have a job, but stranded without service. Our community is hurting, and we are sending a clear message to struggling families – you can’t depend on transit to put food on your table, you need a car. Without it, you may be stranded by no fault of your own, and your livelihood will be at risk.
Businesses countywide are also reopening as part of the recovery and can’t do so without their workers. However, what will cause greater long-term damage, is that because of shutdowns like today, employers will continue to discriminate against those who do not have a vehicle, exacerbating long-term destructive trends for working families struggling to make ends meet.
Most importantly, 34% of transit commuters are Black, and 51% are Hispanic or Latino, with research demonstrating that they are more likely to be essential workers. A complete system shutdown deepens the racial and economic inequities that have contributed to the unjust reality that Black and Brown communities face today, by further isolating them from their fellow citizens and making their lives during this incredibly challenging time even harder.
We urge you to reinstate transit service, especially along major corridors and, as needed, consider temporary localized service suspensions instead of blanket shutdowns, which may be equally effective at preventing further violence but avoid the collateral damage against the working families of our County.
Thank you for your consideration and attention.
Transit Alliance Miami
How Major Transit Agencies Have Responded:
- Los Angeles resumed service on Sunday morning and is providing reimbursement for verifiable replacement trips (eg. rideshare) during service interruptions
- Chicago has only suspended and rerouted service into the downtown core – the system remains operational as a whole
- San Francisco is rerouting bus service ahead of protests but the system remains operational as a whole
- Atlanta resumed all transit services on Sunday following demonstrations
- New York City is only making real-time network adjustments based on protest activity while maintaining and suggesting alternative routes for riders