Green Party Hails SEPTA Expansion • 08.28.08
The group helped lay the groundwork over 4 years ago
PHILADELPHIA – The Green Party of Philadelphia hailed SEPTA’s recent announcement of expanded bus and rail service. (http://www.timesherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20089291&BRD=1672&PAG=461&dept_id=33380&rfi=6) “This is a great day for Philadelphians,” said Hillary Aisenstein, of the Green Party’s Transportation Working Group (http://www.gpop.org/transit). “More buses and trains will mean more mobility for greater numbers of city residents, workers, and students. And just as importantly, it will also mean fewer cars on the road,” said Aisenstein, who is also the group’s treasurer.
SEPTA plans to expand service on 65 specific routes this fall. The agency is able to accomplish this because of Act 44, a new law which provides significant and long-term increases in state funding to the agency.
“Local activists, including many Green Party members, worked hard to get Act 44 passed,” said Belinda Davis, another member of the Transit Working Group. “Since early 2004, Greens spearheaded the push for increased, dedicated, and predictable funding for public transit,” she explained. Since that time the Green Party has gone on to produce a comprehensive overview of the region’s transportation situation, Getting Around Philadelphia.
One of the first events the group organized was a June 2004 rally at the state office building, at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, to call attention to the issue. Speakers included Green Party City Council candidate Tom Hutt, the then-head of AFSCME DC 47 Tom Cronin, Consumer Affairs head and former Green Party member Lance Haver, Democratic City Council candidate Marc Stier, yet-to-be named Green Party City Council candidate and PFT member Marlene Santoyo, and PenTrans Director and Green Party TWG member Peter Javsicas.
“It was a great showing for our first event,” recalled Aisenstein. “We brought SEPTA and the transit unions together, along with environmental groups and other advocates to make the case for more state funding for public transportation. From that event, the Philadelphia Transit Coalition [PTC] was born.”
Over time, the group gained traction, and with the addition of union leadership, particularly from Cronin’s DC 47 and Pat Eiding of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, the PTC gave birth to the Pennsylvania Transit Coalition. The statewide group held several rallies and events both in Philadelphia and in Harrisburg, negotiated with Gov. Rendell, and after three years, finally helped pass Act 44.
“The Green Party was one of many, many organizations working to support transportation,” said Aisenstein. “But we were the first group at the table, long before the issue started getting headlines. We are proud of the work we did and are very happy that it will yield real results for Philadelphians this fall.”
MORE INFORMATION AT:
Green Party of Philadelphia’s Transportation Working Group: http://www.gpop.org/transit
GPOP flyer, “With Gas Prices Going Through the Roof…”
GPOP Report: Getting Around Philadelphia