Transit Riders Union

Transit Riders Union:
P.O. Box 20723
Seattle, WA 98102
www.transitriders.org

Mission:

The Transit Riders Union (TRU) is a democratic organization of working and poor people — including students, seniors and people with disabilities — taking control over our lives and building up the power we need to change society for the good of humanity and the planet. We organize and fight to ensure that every human being has a right to mobility.

History:

TRU was born out of a successful struggle to save King County Metro from deep service cuts in 2011. A small group of riders saw transit cuts across the country in the larger context of rising inequality and decades-long assault on public and social services. Now TRU is an independent, democratic, member-run organization with over 500 members, aiming to build a powerful participatory union of working and poor people fighting for and building a better world. Recently, TRU won deep reforms to fare enforcement on our bus system, and a new Access Paratransit contract improving service for disabled riders. We built the “Move All Seattle Sustainably” Coalition, bringing together transportation, climate & disability rights groups to fight for a sustainable, equitable transportation system.

The Issues:

Transit Riders Union works on issues of transit affordability and access, criminalization of poverty, and affordable housing and homelessness. Another issue is that fare enforcement is punitive and harmful to poor and homeless riders, and especially Black and African American riders who are disproportionately fined for fare non-payment.

Constituency and Leadership:

Our community and constituency are people who ride public transit, especially lower-income riders and people who depend on public transit for basic mobility. Our active members include many people with disabilities and people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity. We aim to build power among constituencies that have historically been marginalized and disengaged from the policies that affect our lives. 

Tackling Oppressive Structures:

Our work is heavily intersectional since the issues we work on — transit affordability and access, criminalization of poverty, affordable housing and homelessness — disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and communities of color. We actively work alongside organizations rooted in these communities when our issues affect them, in addition to acting in solidarity with campaigns they’re leading. Within TRU and in our coalitions, we’re actively doing work on racial equity and other forms of oppression. 

Movement Building:

TRU works with a wide variety of organizations including POC-led groups, climate justice groups, labor unions, human service providers, housing/ homelessness advocacy groups, transit-focused groups, disability rights groups, research/policy organizations, sometimes even businesses. We recognize there are many roles in movement-building, so we’re flexible about working with organizations of all kinds, but we also believe structural change must be driven by the communities most impacted, so we center our energy on campaigns that TRU and our grassroots allies originate based on what our members need and want to fight for. 

Long-term Vision for Change:

Our long term vision is to build a broad movement of, for, and by the communities most impacted by this predatory system, through which we can exert our collective power. TRU works toward this aim through outreach, organizational capacity building, alliance-building, and campaigning. We grow our membership, make group decisions democratically, and invite feedback from community partners in order to become more effective organizers and leaders. We build alliances and coalitions with other social justice organizations. We use our combined grassroots power to pressure elected officials to enact systemic changes that benefit working and poor people, shifting resources and decision-making power to marginalized groups.  

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Organization Budget:  $115,000
Request: $10,000

Raised to date this week:

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