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Nov 4 & 6 - Mobility.docx

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York University
GEOG 2075
Bruce Erickson

November 4 & 6 - Mobility Sikivu Hutchison - Waiting for the Bus -begins with descriptive narrative about getting a seat on the bus at 7pm -best friend "Heather" (lawyer with L.A. city attorney's office) used to ride bus together - longed for day where they could be the ones driving in a car -pg 2- describes riding on the L.A. bus as "a parallel city" enabling another mode of looking, seeing, hearing -experiencing the city -from L.A. to New Haven bus is full of women -Lincoln Institute of Land Policy estimated 4-5% of trips in the US use public transportation- doesn't account for rates of use in communities of colour where women depend heavily on busses& subways to get to the workplace, public agencies, homes of friends &family -1994 bus strike-riders saw bus system as "the bane of predominately black Crenshaw district's existence" -Pacific Electric Railway and L.A. railways ran into all of Greater L.A. (to Riverside and Sanbernardino Counties) till 1950's -almost every major st in L.A. had a trolley line -From the culture of the N.Y. subway (1994) the working-class &elderly women filled seats- reminder of why racial landscape of mass transit is central to L.A.'s conception as a post urban city -city spent 50yrs selling out the ethos of its rail heritage and now it looks like a rail for redemption -the arrogance of the MTA board and the agency's mismanagement have renewed debate about the busy system's importance to the livelihood of scores of low-income riders and on alleviating the environmental and social burden the city's in the private automobile has imposed-congested roads would be the result -1994 strike demonstrated that public transportation was indispensable to the region's economy -1994 was a turning point because of a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit field against the MTA by the NAACP Legal Defence Fund and community activists i.e. Bus Riders Union -activists wore yellow shirts with "fight transit racism" written on them which turned into one of the most visible multiracial political coalitions in the city -victory was historic a)changed L.A.'s transportation politics forever B) created implications for post-civil rights era organizing (to address how institutional racism and sexism inscribe urban public space -the union's insistence that "improving the transit system is a civil rights issue because most commuters are minorities and have low incomes"goes to the heart of how denial of transit access, attendant to the increasing privatization of public space , "others" communities of colour (implications for this trend for working women are clear) -issue of making it harder for women to get to work makes them susceptible of implication to be "house wives" and not work to earn money -downsizing in public transit would affect women of all classes and reinforce gender hierarchy - where the man will be the clear breadwinner -expensive automobile make it impossible to live "the american dream" (hence "dream") especially for women because it is more expensive for them to purchase and have insurance -city's last streetcar ran in April 1961 -restrictive agreements and job discrimination laid foundation for segregation of blacks to South Central L.A. -internal combustion engine's postwar resurgence played a role transforming black neighbourhoods into poster children for American "inner city pathology" -African Americans contributed to founding L.A. (1781) & established communities in 1920s but not until WW2 were they encouraged in war industries to get a job & arrived in large numbers from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas -crowded into substandard housing in Watts, Willowbrook, and Compton (south of L.A.) moved further west -during WW2 segregation in South Central was worsened by uneven streetcar service - marginal transit kept workers' efforts inside the city and deepened the city's isolation -most prominent case: workers at Long Beach Naval Shipyard -one of the largest employers of blacks in LA. - most blacks forced to work graveyard shift (timing of shift was difficult because streetcar &bus wasn't running making workers search of other ways to make it to work) -lack of streetcars lead to overcrowding which lead to half-hour service lags that further compromised workers -in 1942 when there was an abundance of possibility for black employment, limited black mobility mitigated these gains because most black residents didn't own cars and middling streetcar service reinforced the boundaries of exclusion and containment -in 50's most streetcars were replaced by busses - which ran only to certain distances -although middle class blacks were allowed to move to more westerly neighbourhoods, the majority were still confined to older communities with substandard housing -inadequate transportation was what began the Watts Rebellion (1965) -the SCRTD was a cumulation of public policy that subsidized suburban and exurban growth, job export, and commercial development via the segregation of communities i.e. South Central -the spacial reorganization - with their open-air stops and irregular arrival times- has been inhospitable to women riders who are faced with the potential to wait at night where there was low "city life" or "street culture" -interface b
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