Minority residents account for 60 percent of all public transit riders, according to industry experts. While over 2.8 million essential workers rely on public transportation to get to work, expert analysis found, 67 percent of those are people of color.
In the early days of the pandemic, industry analysis also showed white ridership on transit systems dropped drastically, with 22 percent of transit users identifying as white, compared with 40 percent normally. Black ridership, which normally accounts for 24 percent of transit users, increased to nearly 38 percent.
“The wealthy have lots of choices,” said Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group. “People with enough money can choose to opt out for a while. That’s quite a luxury.”
Experts say the ability for higher-income and white-collar workers to work remotely or use a car at higher rates than low-income and minority residents highlights another systemic inequity made glaringly obvious during the pandemic.