Shavel’le Olivier relies on Boston’s public transit to do her shopping, run errands, and visit family. She lives in Mattapan, a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the city where 74 percent of residents are Black and 16 percent Hispanic. It can take an hour to travel less than five miles from her house on the bus, due to heavy traffic. She grew up thinking that’s just the way things work, but now she’s questioning the status quo.

Bus route 28, which serves the neighborhoods of Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester — where two-thirds of Boston’s Black residents live — gets some of the highest ridership in the city. That was true before the pandemic, and remains true today. Yet despite the essential role it plays, route 28, like many urban bus lines nationwide, gets just a small share of overall transit investment. “Communities of color are always left out when it comes to the resources that are needed to enhance our community,” Olivier said.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing inequities in public transportation networks across the United States. In city after city, suburban trains ran nearly empty while neglected bus systems continued to carry essential workers to their jobs in hospitals, grocery stores, and warehouses. Costly new and expanded rail lines, built over the past two decades, suddenly went unused. The long-standing underinvestment in urban transit only added to racial injustice exacerbated by a pandemic that disproportionately killed Black and Latino people.

Now, transit agencies from Boston to Atlanta to Chicago are belatedly awakening to the reality that has been there all along — and reevaluating their resources to address those inequalities.

Read the full article about rethinking transportation by Dan Zukowski at Grist.