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The BRU banner has its name in three languages. (From March 3, 2006 antiwar march in Hollywood.)

The Bus Riders Union (BRU)/Sindicato de Pasajeros (SDP) (also called 버스 승객 조합 (버승조) in Korean) is a United States civil rights organization originally formed in Los Angeles, California in 1991. It has in the past made claims of upwards of 5,000 dues-paying members and was recognized by a federal court as being among the class action representatives of 450,000 bus riders in Los Angeles for a Consent Decree reached between plantiffs of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on equity grounds regarding bus service and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), which operates and funds transit services in Los Angeles County.



The Bus Rider's Union is a campaign of the Labor/Community Strategy Center that began as an outgrowth of the LCSC's activism in regards pollution in the L.A. Port area and air pollution in general. Some of their earliest organizing was done in the Pico/Union area of Los Angeles. In association with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates, a lawsuit was filed by the LCSC/BRU in reaction to the proposed elimination of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority monthly pass and allegations that funds that should have been used to provide bus service for working class people was instead being diverted to construct the Los Angeles County Metro Rail and Metrolink. The basis of the claim in the lawsuit was such projects were racist because Metro Rail and Metrolink had a greater percentage of whites in the service area than the MTA's bus service, thus discriminating against blacks and Latinos. As of July 2007, 17% of LACMTA's rail riders were white classified as white non-Hispanics. In contrast, only 10% of bus riders were classified as white non-Hispanics.[1] As of September 2008, 40% of Metrolink riders were classified as not being "ethnic"[2].

The most complete statement of the principles undelying the BRU are in the LCSC publication A New Vision of Urban Transportation: The Bus Riders Union's Mass Transit Campaign by LCSC Executive Director Eric Mann. There is also a feature length documentary titled Bus Riders Union directed by Academy Award winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler which provides an overview of the organization with profiles of some of the members.

The BRU has a multiracial base, with a core black, Latino, and working class coalition, with the addition of a Korean faction since 2001. BRU conducts its membership meetings with simultaneous interpretation for English, Spanish and Korean and the same is done for nearly all of its written works.


The Bus Riders Union was able to achieve relatively quick success. Soon after formation and represented by Connie Rice and others from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, they were able to obtain an injunction on the elimination of the monthly pass. With the MTA, they came to an agreement to a consent decree in 1996, which called for the creation of a semi-monthly and weekly pass, reducing prices for the monthly pass, holding fare increases to the level of inflation, and providing new services designed to connect minorities and the poor to job and medical sites. However, the most important part of the consent decree is a restriction on the number of standees on a bus. MTA could not allow more than a "load factor", or passengers on the bus divided by number of seats, of a certain amount.

The BRU was unable to reach an extension on the 10-year decree and as a result, the decree expired on Sunday October 29, 2006. An appeal of the decree's expiration filed by the BRU and allies was rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009.[3]

Current Activism

Recently, the BRU has branched out into other civil rights issues. The BRU was one of the sponsors of the Great American Boycott demonstration in Los Angeles on May 1, 2006. [4] The current campaign is "1,000 More Buses, 1,000 Less Police", as the BRU is advocating that policing be reduced throughout the city because of past abuses by the Los Angeles Police Department of minority civil rights.

The Bus Riders Union strongly opposed the fare increases that were proposed in 2007. While the turnout of members at the hearing was impressive, the strategy of having as their chief demand a fare decrease was ineffectual. The BRU has since taken credit for highlighting equity issues in the debate over bus fares. But offers no substantive solutions for the underlying problem of inadequate transit funding.

The LCSC has launched a Center for Transportation Strategies intended to expand its involvement with regional and national transportation issues as an outgrowth of a 2005 conference attended by activists from around the U.S.

Since 2004, the BRU has engaged in a ongoing advocacy campaign for the placing of bus only lanes along Wilshire Boulevard. [5]

See also

External links



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