Wednesday, March 24, 2021
4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Kafui Attoh ’06, Assistant Professor
City University of New York, CUNY School of Professional Studies
March 24, 2021 (4:45 pm – 5:45 pm) – Zoom link request
Public Transportation and the Right to the CityIs public transportation a right? Should it be? For those reliant on public transit, the answer is invariably “yes” to both. When city officials propose slashing service or raising fares, it is these riders who are often the first to demand their “right” to keep their bus. In this presentation, I start from the presumption that such riders are justified. For those who lack other means of mobility, transit is a lifeline. It offers access to many of the entitlements we take as essential: food, employment, and democratic public life itself. While accepting transit as a right, the goal of the presentation will be to suggest that there remains a desperate need to think critically, both about what is meant by a right and about the types of rights at issue when public transportation is threatened. Drawing on a detailed case study of the various struggles that have come to define public transportation in California’s East Bay, I argue that advocates of transportation justice ought to focus as much on questions of civil rights as they do on the questions implicit in the more radical demand for a right to the city.