Commentary: Public transportation workers always play vital roles
Public transit is a public good. And while our public transit systems have been sapped dry by austerity budgeting at the state and federal levels, workers within the state’s beleaguered transportation authorities have continued to muscle through despite cut after cut after cut. At the MBTA, workers have endured one threat after another to their jobs, to their benefits, and to their livelihoods, mostly from folks who haven’t taken a bus or subway train in years.
Now, as community leaders, we hope that one effect of the pandemic will be a renewed level of appreciation for public transit workers, the same as there has been for workers in other sectors like grocery stores. Public transit workers often face physical violence at the hands of disturbed or agitated riders – and they have faced a cascade of economic violence from think tanks and others who for years have used the MBTA’s workforce as a political punching bag.