Rally for Transit, An Essential Service 

By Susan Wolfgram, Co-Chair JONAH Affordable Housing Task Force

Put the US in Bus!

Our Gamaliel weeklong leadership training is July 21-27. Our action advocacy event, #RallyForTransit, will be held on July 25. “Rally For Transit” is a campaign by area partners to educate the community on the essential need for public transportation and to advocate for expanded services. JONAH, the Amalgamated Transit Union, WISDOM, Gamaliel, and the Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance have partnered to make changes that would support those who rely on transportation on a day-to-day basis.

Some context: Transit is not a “choice” for many people; public transit is an essential service. All people—regardless of race, ability, age, income, or identity—have the right to transit mobility and transit accessibility. Public transit infrastructure is vital to the social and economic livelihood of all people. We must protect the right to transit by first ensuring that all individuals have access to convenient, affordable, and equitable transit services. Public transit remains essential to millions of Americans who lack access to other modes of transportation or for whom owning a car doesn’t make financial sense.

Accessible, affordable, and reliable transportation is essential for everyone — but decades of policy decisions and infrastructure investments, coupled with racist land use policies, have resulted in serious transportation inequities in the United States, and have made it increasingly clear that transportation is a social determinant of health. The social determinants of health are defined as “conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that shape health.” These determinants of health include factors such as socioeconomic status, education, built environment, housing, employment, social networks, and access to health care. In the United States today, a person’s ability to live a healthy life is dramatically affected by where he or she lives. Among the social determinants of health, transportation is most directly linked with built environment factors (otherwise known as the neighborhood and physical environment); however, transportation also affects our ability to access jobs, education, healthy food, social engagements, faith-based institutions, and health care. Communities of color and poor white communities, whether urban or rural, are more likely to rely on public transit systems and are more directly affected by lopsided infrastructure investments.

Our purpose is to increase awareness in our community and with legislators that transit is a tool for equity in a community and that all modes of public transportation are essential services. We will lift up the need for expanded services and a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)* for the entire Chippewa Valley.

*The term “RTA,” commonly known as a Regional Transportation Authority, is a local or regional governmental entity or agency that provides public regional transportation including various modes such as bus transit, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, or others. An RTA is typically funded through local, county, state, and federal funding agreements. Some RTAs are self-governing, and some have taxing authority.

“The Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance (CVTA) has worked for years in the Chippewa Valley to ensure that public transit serves its riders optimally,” says Phil Swanhorst. “We’ve hit a roadblock to be able to expand services any further because there isn’t enough fiscal investment in transportation. In order to create the services our community needs, we need to advocate for more funding from the state.”

Please join us!


  • Our #RallyForTransit Event is Thursday, July 25th. It starts at 4:30pm at Wilson Park (corner of Farwell and Emery St in Eau Claire).
  • We will begin at Wilson Park with speakers, including persons with lived experience of depending on public transit, elected officials, and transit advocates.
  • Then there will be a march through downtown near the transit center and a return march back to Wilson Park to hear and respond to a call for legislative action. (This will be a total walk of about 6 blocks.)
  • Our ASK is “to allow the RTA bill to begin the legislative process” by asking our legislators and participants to commit their signature on a proclamation:

Transit is an essential service; we should fund it like it’s essential.

More information on the rally is available here.