Stuff Black People Don’t like #103. Paying for Public Transportation

#103. Paying for Public Transportation

Public transportation. In theory, a wonderful idea. Clean, efficient, green and a way to keep unnecessary automobiles off the roads and severely cutting down on congestion for those commuting to work.

Riding in the front of the bus doesn’t make it free

In theory, everything is a wonderful idea, though, but public transportation around the United States has been a colossal failure. When integration commenced in the big cities, white flight wasn’t far behind. Commutes to work increased ten-fold as young families fled the hopeless notion that their children could be educated in the same rooms as Black children, a practice that lingers to this day.

Metro rail systems and bus lines were never going to travel into far flung suburbs, forcing refugees from these cities to drive long distances. Public transportation the nation over became exclusively Black, with cities like Atlanta, Memphis, Birmingham, St. Louis and others seeing the bus and light rail systems emerge as job programs for otherwise unemployable Black people.

The stigma of public transportation became so great that respectable commuters became increasingly disinclined from acquiescing to a time saving ride on a bus or train and exposed themselves instead to headache inducing commutes on the expressway, battling traffic and time away from their families. A voice to article the realization that something was dreadfully wrong never materialized.

Most public transportation systems in America are failing, because relying on a predominately Black clientele isn’t conducive to a thriving business model. Atlanta’s MARTA system  (aka Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta, or something like that) has become the model for which all future metro systems will strive not emulate.The riders are a wonderful representation of that city:

When the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) was conceived and created in the 1960s, many whites jokingly referred to it as “Moving African Rapidly Through Atlanta.” The system was originally conceived to cover five counties (Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton, and Gwinnett). Only Fulton and DeKalb residents voted to join MARTA and pay the one-cent sales tax. Atlanta city residents pay eight cents on a dollar in sales tax: four cents for the state, three cents for Fulton and Dekalb, and one cent for the City of Atlanta’s water treatment fund.


A 2006 rider survey revealed that 76 percent of MARTA’s rail and bus riders are African American and other people of color. More than 63 percent of users have a household income of less than $30,000. Only Fulton and DeKalb County residents pay for the up keep and expansion of MARTA with a one-cent sales tax. Today, the regular one-way fare on MARTA is $2.00, up from $1.00 in 1992. MARTA is projected to have a $588-$634 million shortfall over the next decade.

So if 3/4th of MARTA’s passengers are Black, one can only infer that the vast majority of those failing to pay for the service are also Black:

The practice of riding MARTA without paying has got to stop, because these people hurt the system in multiple ways, MARTA CEO Beverly Scott said at a recent board meeting.

The offenders prevent MARTA from collecting revenue. And when they fail to tap a Breeze card, even when leaving a station, they complicate MARTA’s planning for distance-based fares; passengers eventually will be charged when they tap out at the end of a trip rather than at the beginning, and people who take longer trips will be charged more.

One needs to infer absolutely nothing in Cleveland, a city crumbling apart thanks to a population incapable of innovation or sustaining businesses. A reason for this can be found in a lack of trust and accountability, most notable in Black people deciding not to pay for bus fare:

Blacks have received a disproportionately high number of citations for not paying Regional Transit Authority fares, a Plain Dealer analysis has found.

More than 85 percent of the citations for the infraction were issued to them during the past two years, the analysis found.

By contrast, fewer than 70 percent of the riders on the lines where the citations were handed out are black, RTA spokeswoman Mary McCahon said.

She could not explain why blacks received a disproportionate number of the citations, but ruled out racism as the cause.

“It’s unfortunate that the statistics come out this way, but there is no profiling,” McCahon said.

Civil rights groups are agitated that this crackdown is even taking place and that duplicitous Black passengers are even being targeted for their niggardly manner of failing to part with the correct amount of money for bus fare.

All it amounts to is a hate fact that the numbers align the way they do. Nothing more, nothing less. Earlier this year, the Cleveland city council was forced to table a measure that would have led to cracking down on fare jumpers sooner, but those same civil rights groups found such measures odious:

RTA‘s board has tabled, and effectively killed, a controversial proposal to crack down on youths who aren’t paying fares on rapid-transit lines.

George Dixon, chairman of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board, said Tuesday that he feared the policy would fall too heavily on young black males and minority communities served by the transit lines.

Dixon said he and at least two other black male members of RTA’s nine-member board had concerns about sending young fare-jumpers to the county’s juvenile court.

Minority leaders have long been concerned about the disproportionate number of blacks in the county’s juvenile and adult court systems.

Birmingham’s bus system is broke. New York’s honor system bus service is failing.Memphis’ MATA system is a complete joke and in financial trouble. Atlanta’s MARTA is indeed, overwhelming Black. Seattle’s bus system isn’t safe. Detroit’s bus system is exclusively the mode of transportation for Black people, a fitting tribute to Rosa Parks.

Every time a person fails to pay for their ride, the comptrollers in charge of the bus or metro system have to find ways to generate revenue, which normally requires fare increases. Call it the Black Tax, as fair jumpers require all those who actually pay and promote honesty are forced to pay more so others can enjoy a free ride.

Clayton County in Georgia saw its bus system shut down completely. St. Louis’ system is in financial trouble. Charlotte’s new light-rail has become a haven for Black crime.

Just like in Cleveland and Atlanta, Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes paying for public transportation. Since Rosa Parks sat in the front of a bus in Montgomery, white people have looked upon public transportation as a trip into an exotic, foreign country.

In some places (San Diego, Portland, Salt Lake City and San Francisco) public transportation works. One element is missing in these cities that is found abundantly in Atlanta, Memphis, Detroit, Cleveland and other cities where public transportation is in trouble.

What could that be?

One thought on “Stuff Black People Don’t like #103. Paying for Public Transportation

  1. Well these people for over a half century have been subsidized by the common taxpayer and now everything is broke and there is now “hell to pay”.

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