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Shifting Gears /w Sean Sweeney and John Treat: Labor Strategies for Low-Cost Public Transit Mobility
Tuesday, April 6 / 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
Writing in the 2021 Socialist Register, Sean Sweeney and John Treat call for a major shift in transport policy: a break from the model of development centered on private personal vehicles to one that places mass public transport at the center of future passenger mobility. The current approach – reliance on incentives and assurances to private investors – has failed miserably. While public transport has grown in many places, this has not even slowed the rise in transport-related emissions. Similarly, reliance on small electric vehicles (EVs) as a “replacement technology” for standard cars and trucks has reduced emphasis on minimizing unnecessary or unwanted mobility and exaggerated claims about the potential emissions benefits.
Sean and John will take a global look at road transport to envision urban transport systems that are organized on a “public goods” basis. They argue that the incursions of private corporations such as Uber and Lyft could be repelled, at least partially, by improved access to high quality public transport. At the same time, given the car-dependent development of peri-urban and rural areas, and the likely expansion of urban space in the coming decades (especially in the Global South), advocates of public transport will want to explore how “occupying the platforms” through public car-sharing schemes might meet these needs as part of municipal or communally owned fleets. Reclaiming and expanding public transport can and should be part of a broader project to re-imagine neighborhoods, cities, ecosystems, systems of production, and circulation.
Sean Sweeney is Director of the International Program for Labor, Climate, and Environment at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. John Treat is a writer, researcher, and organizer with Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.