L.A. bus riders protest proposed federal transportation cuts

As the 720 Rapid bus stopped at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue on Tuesday to pick up westbound commuters, activists beat drums and chanted slogans demanding that Congress and President Obama avoid cuts to transportation spending.

“Gridlock and congestion kill jobs, they kills us,” said Ryan Wiggins of the national advocacy group Transportation For America. “If cities like L.A. are going to prosper, we’re going to need robust systems.”

Organizers said Tuesday’s rally of about 100 people was one of several  across the nation timed to coincide with pending votes in Washington on federal transportation funding.

“We’re trying to get people to jobs and trying to keep and grow jobs,” said Bob Allen of the Northern California organization Urban Habitat. “We think it’s a great job creator,” he said of transportation spending.

Allen helped organize a similar event planned for Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street in Oakland. Other rallies were scheduled in Chicago, Seattle, New York and Boston.

“For the millions of Americans and...Angelenos without cars, public transit is the difference between having and not having a way to go to the market, the doctor, to school, to a job interview,” said Crystal McMillan of the Bus Riders Union, which supported the rally. 

Nearby was a sidewalk art installation of dozens of old shoes. “Put yourself in our shoes!" it said. "President Obama & Congress help stop bus service cuts and fare increases.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on September 20, 2011 and is available here:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/09/la-bus-riders-protest-proposed-federal-transportation-cuts-.html