Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens introduced ‘Transit Equity Day’ in celebration of Rosa Parks Fri. Feb. 4, 2023. Photo b Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joined MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood to mark and celebrate Transit Equity Day on Friday afternoon. Transit Equity Day commemorates the life and legacy of Rosa Parks with a National Day of Action to promote equity in public transportation.

Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. This inspired the Montgomery Black community to organize a citywide bus boycott, a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

“Transit Equity Day is an important part of my agenda. It’s one layer that will help us make our city, a city of opportunity for all,” Dickens said. “Transportation and specifically public transportation, connects Atlantans to resources between work, education, as well as healthcare and beyond are some of the things people can be connected to via our public transportation. Public transit is a way to make a big city even smaller, allowing our youth access to cultural amenities and touch phones that they can reach even further than where a school field trip might take them.”

For Atlanta youth, Dickens said, a quick trip on MARTA can bring the world to them as it did for him growing up in Adamsville.

“It took me all throughout the city of Atlanta as a youth and it still can do so today for young people,” he said.

Also, Dickens said between today and Saturday, Feb. 4, MARTA, and Dicken’s administration will be going around promoting transit equity across the city.

“It’s always adequate to do this on Feb. 4 because it’s Rosa Parks birthday. So, that’s one of the reasons why we do this,” said Dickens.

Additionally, Dickens said transit equity is ‘much bigger than just a day or an entire weekend,’ but it helps to shine a light on opportunities for his administration to fulfill the promises they made to the people of the City of Atlanta.

“It is how we can see how to best deploy infrastructure. For instance, communities that need sidewalks or need safer routes for schools or cars, having a specific day helps to better understand a community’s public transit needs,” said Dickens. “Residents of Atlanta passed the transit referendum six years ago allowing MARTA to move forward with expansion projects. My administration intends to continue to work with MARTA to expand transit across this city. While we understand the toll that inflation has taken, we remain committed to finding a solution that allows us to expand transit for our residents.”

Greenwood said when Parks took that seat over 70 years ago, she “really started something.”

“She started something that is in perpetual motion, something that MARTA intends to support for years, decades, and generations to come,” said Greenwood. “As the largest transit agency in the southeast, it’s not an obligation, but it’s a responsibility and a calling. It’s an opportunity to have equitable transit to all members of our communities and to create and maintain conditions such that Ms. Parks herself would feel welcomed, respected, and supported in our system today. The world owes her that, MARTA owes her that.”

According to MARTA, Atlantans can ‘take a stand’ by taking a seat on a MARTA bus for Transit Equity Day between Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 to advocate for equitable transit as a civil right for all. MARTA also encourages people to take photos, tag them, and use #TransitEquityDayATL.

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