Save Our System Coalition Distributes Free SmartTrip Cards In Protest of WMATA’s New Policies Targeting Low-Income Riders

Eliminating Negative Balances and Cracking Down on Fare Evasion Will Hurt Black and Brown Communities, Low income Riders Most, Coalition Says

January 7, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC - The Save Our System Coalition is taking action Monday, January 8th to draw attention to the negative impact of WMATA’s decision to do away with its long-standing Minimum Balance Policy and its heightened fare enforcement activities that disproportionately target low-income communities, namely black lifelong DC residents.
The coalition, which includes local organizations No Justice No Pride, Black Lives Matter DC, Americans for Transit and Future is Feminist, will be holding a press conference and rally on Monday, January 8th at 4 PM at the Anacostia Metro Station. The group takes aim at WMATA’s decision to remove their long standing Minimum Balance Policy in an effort to regain “lost revenue.” 
“WMATA’s new ‘No Negative Balance’ policy oppresses and criminalizes marginalized people. It’s now coming to a point where people have to decide if they are going to spend money on food and rent or on fare for SmartTrips,” said Dornethia Taylor, of Black Lives Matter DC and a lead organizer for the event.
“These policies only serve to make Metro more inaccessible to those who need access to public transportation most. Undermining access to public transportation will only worsen the racial and economic divides that plague our city, while distracting the public from the real fare evaders looting the system,” said Tracye Redd of Black Lives Matter DC and a lead organizer for the event.
WMATA has lost $25 million over a period of 17 years, and the system needs at least $500 million additionally a year to sustain itself. The coalition maintains that if WMATA is serious about recouping lost funds they should be focusing on developers profiting off of real estate projects around Metro stops.
“Premium property owners and developers are reaping huge rewards from building near Metro, but for some reason we aren’t even asking them to pay a little bit of it back to support the system,” said Emmelia Talarico, Senior Organizer for the Save Our System Coalition and Chair of No Justice No Pride’s Steering Committee.
“Sloppy policy changes, high fares, service cuts and other anti-rider initiatives that inevitably result in the criminalization of low income communities and targeting those who are already struggle to pay metro fares is the wrong way for WMATA to address their ongoing funding crisis,” added Talarico. 
In addition, the coalition wishes to call attention to other harmful policies such as FareShare and WMATA’s heightened enforcement of fare evasion in recent months.
“Eliminating the Negative Balance policy while fare boxes and exit fare machines still only take cash is a short sighted move,” Tracye Redd added. “Metro is already targeting those who can’t pay metro fare with hundreds of dollars in fines or arrest. Now, we fear riders will literally be trapped in the system. Bus drivers will be forced to leave riders without cash behind, even if they need transportation to get to an ATM.”
“Ultimately this will increase disputes over fares, making Metro even more unsafe, especially for black and brown communities, already targeted by Metro police,” said Talarico. 
“If anyone can help us get more SmartTrips to give out please donate to,” added Dornethia Taylor, of Black Lives Matter DC.
Who: Members of the Save Our System Coalition - Americans For Transit, Black Lives Matter DC, No Justice No Pride and Future is Feminist
What:  Press Conference, Rally and Fare Card Give-Away
Where: Anacostia Metro Station - 1101 Howard Rd SE Washington, DC
When: Monday, January 8th, starting at 4PM
Timeline: Rally and Give Away starts at 4PM, Press Conference to begin at 4:30PM and Speakers to Start at 5.
Press inquiries may be directed to [email protected] 
For more background on these polices, getting dedicated Metro funding and who the real fare evaders are:
For more info on the Rally:
Black Lives Matter DC is a collective of organizers, activists, and artists in DC who work to combat anti-blackness and racialized oppression in all of its manifestations as experienced by Black and African diasporic people.
No Justice No Pride (NJNP) is a collective of organizers and activists from across the District of Columbia. We exist to fight for trans justice and to end the LGBT “equality” movement’s complicity with systems of oppression that further marginalize Trans and Queer individuals. Our members are black, brown, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, bisexual, indigenous, two-spirit, formerly incarcerated, disabled, and white allies. Together we recognize that there can be no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.
The Future is Feminist is an organizer collective dedicated to smashing the patriarchy, seizing body autonomy for all, fighting for economic justice, and centering the voices of trans and gender non-conforming folks and people of color.
Save Our System is a coalition powered by riders, community based organizations, grassroots groups, small businesses, workers, unions and others who have had enough with WMATA's neglect for their riding public. We know the system can be better, fairer and more reliable. Metro is our lifeline to the city