Passengers and workers on the Washington Metro told the meeting what they want from public transport

Unions build global public transport policy

ITF unions in the Our Public Transport (OPT) programme have laid the foundations for an alternative public transport policy that works for workers as well as passengers.

Unions and passenger groups met in Washington DC, USA last week to begin building a public transport policy that challenges the status quo of privatised, deregulated services that are denying access to millions around the world.

The programme will be sourcing ideas for the policy from passengers and workers around the world. In order to build a campaigning platform that reflects their voices and experiences.

The group heard from passengers and workers on the Washington DC, Metro subway and buses who submitted videos about how they want public transport to be run.

A station manager on the Washington DC Metro told the meeting: “I love my job, but there is a perception from the company that we don’t do anything and we could be replaced by a machine. In fact we have to deal with thousands of customers everyday.

“Dealing with passengers and their problems is the most important thing, and no automated machine can give the same level of service. I want the company to respect its workers and understand the jobs we do.”

OPT programme leader, Alana Dave, stated that the OPT programme is reclaiming the meaning of public transport for the majority. She said that public transport should benefit the whole of society, rather than just benefit the profits of the few.

She believes that good public transport in a city is as essential as water and sanitation. She concluded that workers’ rights are central to this, and by working with passengers to design this policy the ITF can create a strong coalition.

Activists from 14 unions were at the meeting in Washington DC. They also analysed the World Bank’s public transport policies, discussed putting gender at the centre of their work, shared ideas about building alliances and looked at strengthening networks in multinational companies.

The ideas and vision for the policy will be presented to all ITF urban transport unions at a meeting next year, and launched at the ITF Congress in 2018.

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