On November 29th, cities across so-called North America responded to a call to engage in fare strikes and other autonomous actions around mass transit. The call itself was inspired by similar actions in Chile and the #FTP marches in New York which have demanded an end to law enforcement on public trains following a string of police shootings and brutal beatings.
Originally published by Its Going Down.
In recent months, the topic of fare evasion has become an increasingly looming bogeyman in the capitalist press, as transit officials across the US have pushed for more police and fare inspectors on buses and trains. In New York, this predictably has led to a series of brutal incidents, where police have targeted youth, people of color, the poor, and street vendors. Moreover, as many have pointed out, fares are generally only a small portion of what funds public transit, and fare enforcement is really about creating a barrier to the point of entry which can exclude the poor under the threat of police violence.
This repression has also been coupled in an increasing austerity model across many systems, in which the costs of the system have been put on riders through fare increases, on workers through job cuts, and on the poor by the process of excluding them from the system by means of the police. As City Lab pointed out:
The MTA has launched a new campaign to combat fare evasion, which the agency claims cost them $300 million this year in lost bus and subway fares. That has been coupled with the hiring of 500 transit officers underground—which could cost the system more than it saves in recovered fares.
The growth of a neoliberal austerity model coupled with increased police repression comes at a time when working-class riders are relying on mass transit more than ever, as gentrification pushes more and more people farther and farther away from their work places and urban cores. Amazon workers on Staten Island for instance, are currently protesting for access to free transit to and from their jobs at fulfillment centers – a demand echoed in the November 29th call for free transit across the board.
With all this in mind, its great to see people responding to the call for action. Below is our roundup on what went down and we encourage people to send us report backs to info [at] itsgoingdown [dot] org.
Also check out:
- November 29th Call
- Fare Strike FAQ
- Interview with Seattle Anarchists on Fare Strike
- This Is America Interview on #FTP actions in New York
- Report Back from New York #FTP March
In Seattle a group of people engaged in fare evasion while chanting slogans and handing out flyers. However, this initial group left the rally point before the bulk of the people who came out for the demonstration arrived, including those who heard about the event through radio interviews and online articles. While the event was still a success, hopefully people can learn from this action for the next engagement. A report on the action can be found here.
Portland saw probably the largest action, with reports of over 100-200 people taking part throughout the entire day. People began the event by rallying outside of the Trimet transit center, proceeded to march inside the building while chanting, and then collectively boarded mass transit where the demonstration continued and flyers were handed out. The event itself was organized by a coalition of anarchist, autonomous anti-capitalist, and antifascist groups and also focused on a recent decision to add more security on buses to target fare evaders.
San Francisco, CA
In the working-class Mission District of San Francisco, California, a mass fare evasion action was organized. Videos posted on social media show that flyers were also distributed and graffiti messages were also written. A report on the action can be found here.
Pro-fare evasion stickers and posters put up. Group of people engages in a group fare evasion with banner reading, “OK Boomer.”
Pro-fare evasion stickers put up and a pay station was sabotaged.
In Toronto on Friday, about 20 people carried out a group fare evasion following a climate demonstration while chanting, “Public transit should be free! Liberate the TTC!” The act took place a day after a group of high school students hoped turn stiles to board trains for free, which was captured on a viral videos. A report on the action can be found here.
In one of the videos, dozens of people rushPresto turnstiles at what appears to be the Runnymede subway station, vaulting over them without paying.
The second video shows a large group of people flood through the back door of a TTC bus and appear not to pay. An individual is heard in the video saying: “F— the TTC,” before boarding.
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