Feb 5, 2018 was national Transit Equity Day. Here in DC, activists from several organizations stood between the doors of the Wilson Building and councilmember Jack Evan’s parked car. Yes, the car he can drive instead of using Metro Center (across the street) was parked almost directly in line with the doorway to the Wilson Building, providing the perfect stage for transit advocates. The protest ran 4-5PM, as he normally leaves at about 4:30PM-but today Jack Evans refused to appear.
The demands of Save Our System and No Justice No Pride were these:
*A $2 flat fare with free transfers between bus/bus, bus/rail, rail/rail
*Bringing back late night service
*Fully funding the DC Adult Learner Pass Program
*Strengthening existing safety nets like the DC ONE card
*Implementing a WMATA low-income pass program
*Amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and SOS partners working to reduce criminal charges and fines associated fare payment enforcement in DC
A specific demand was that absolutely none of any new funding dedicated to Metro-not one thin dime-go to Metro’s police agency. Activists were very clear that for a great many riders, more police make Metro less safe due to the rising number of confrontations over rightly or wrongly suspected fare evasion. The repeated incidents of Metro police doing things like macing and arresting children eating on the system or dumping disabled “suspects” out of wheelchairs no doubt also factor into this judgement.
Activists suggested that the very necessary funding to repair Metrorail be extracted from the developers and big businesses whose profits and excess land value from being located on top of or next to Metro stations exceeds the orignal cost of construction of Metrorail. An activist from the Statehood Green Party flatly panned the proposed sales tax as regressive, as another attempt to balance WMATA’s budget on the backs of the poor. He suggested that the Trump tax cuts those making more than $200,000 a year in DC, MD, and VA be taken back by these three states in (presumably income) taxes, thus providing more than enough money to restore Metro. Metro was not always the unreliable, dangerous, tracker and cop-infested system it now is reputed to be! It was once the crown jewel of all urban subway systems.
Transit activists had intended to force Jack Evans, one of the worst DC Councilmembers on transit, on poverty, and on policing to walk through or around them and listen to what they had to say in order to approach his own car, parked in so obvious a place with license plates clearly identifying it as “DC Council Ward 2” with each ward having exactly one councilmember.
Jack Evans drives a rather expensive looking Chrysler sports car, the cost of which could have no doubt paid for months of transportation for all the people harassed by Metro police for not having enough money on their Smartrip cards to exit Metro in places like Anacostia. Other councilmembers emerged from the Wilson Building and retrieved their cars without issue, but Jack Evans was a no-show, presumably hiding in his office to wait out protesters. Had he taken Metro, he could have left by any doorway and gone to any of several stations by multiple routes. Due to the location of his car, he had two choices: be an adult and face the protesters, or petunantly hide in his (office) room. He chose the latter.